Goal setting is both an art and a science. It takes strategic thought and planning to create effective goals that are attainable and help push you to grow.

To help you get started setting your own goals, here are top ten goal setting mistakes you should avoid.


1. Not writing down goals

It’s a big mistake to not document your goals. Writing them down helps you focus and transition your goals from mere aspirations and thoughts into action. When you begin to write them down you will develop a more clarified vision of what you want to achieve and how do achieve it. Documenting goals will also help you review them periodically and make changes if necessary. Gail Matthews at Dominican University found that people that wrote down their goals accomplished more.


2. Creating too many goals

When you set too many goals it’s difficult to keep them straight. You need to be able to stay focused on goals that are most important, and make sure you’re working to complete them. It’s easy to lose sight of the purpose of certain tasks you’re doing when you have lots of goals to keep up with.


3. Goals aren’t specific enough

Simply saying “I want to increase my sales” isn’t good enough. You need to explore how you will achieve this and be as detailed as you can. Do you want to increase sales for a specific product? By how much do you want increase sales? Do you want to achieve this within a quarter, a year, two years?


4. Goals aren’t measurable

If you don’t attach some sort of measurable unit to your goals then you will have no way of knowing if you have achieved them. Give your goals some numbers or percentages to go by. For example, “I want to increase my sales by 20% within the fiscal year” is a much better goal than the one previously mentioned.


5. There is no due date

Without due dates, your goals may get burried under your everyday tasks. A deadline will help you pay attention and not neglect your goals for other business matters.

6. Goals aren’t aligned with the business strategy

If your goals aren’t aligned with your business, then what purpose are they serving? Every goal should align with your strategy because, failing to do so often results in a waste of resources and time.


7. Goals aren’t kept visible

Writing down your goals isn’t always enough. Don’t jot down some great goals on a sheet of paper only to have it tossed in the trash or shoved in a drawer a few hours later. Keep them somewhere you can look them periodically. Send them to your designer to get them layed out, print them, laminate them, hang them on the wall in your office.


8. Underestimating completion time

More often than not, tasks or projects take longer to complete than expected. The same will likely apply to goals you set, and it’s discouraging when things don’t go as planned. When people become discouraged, they often give up or even lose sight as to why they started in the first place.

This is why it’s important to accurately estimate goal completion time! Give your estimates some extra wiggle room, and use effective scheduling tactics to help you plan.


9. Not setting short term goals

Short term goals serve as milestones to reaching the big goal. They will help keep you on track and help break down the process to smaller, more achievable tasks.

10. Setting unrealistic goals

When you first begin setting goals, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and really shoot for the stars. However, making unrealistic goals right off the bat won’t get you anywhere. Really analyze the goals you set and determine if they can be accomplished in a feasible and timely way. Check out some tips for creating financial goals to help get you started!