6 Goal-Setting Mistakes: Are You Making Any of Them?

Previous post:

Next post:

by Dana on January 9, 2014

goal-setting-mistakesIt’s that time of year…time to create your goals and set your course for the year. Do you have your plan in place yet?

There are six common mistakes I often see people make when they set their goals. Are you making any of these?

Mistake #1 — Jumping right into the “what.”

Many people will just jump right in and start brainstorming what they want to achieve this year. Instead, I recommend starting with an in-depth evaluation of the past year. Review any metrics you’ve collected (financial, web data, conversion rates, etc.) You also want to ask yourself…

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • Which investments (of both time & money) had the highest rate of return?
  • Where did you invest that you shouldn’t have?
  • Where should you have invested more?
  • Where’s your biggest missed opportunity? Where are you leaving money on the table?
  • What are you tolerating in your business?
  • What needs to change?
  • What support do you need to make those changes?

Mistake #2 — Lack of clarity.

Many people set generic goals — e.g., make more money in my business — but what does that mean? You could earn $10 more, $10,000 more or $100,000 more. Each would look very different. Determine exactly what success looks like for you. And even better, get clear on why that specific target is important to you. Sometimes people select a target because it sounds good. For example, breaking the six-figure mark is a common goal for many business owners — but is that really the number for you? How much money do you need? What would you do with that money? What would it mean? Determining the “why” will make identifying the “what” easier.

Mistake #3 — Not planning out the “how.”

You wouldn’t start a road trip without a map, so why would you start moving toward your goals without one? When you set a big goal, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to do. That’s why it’s important to identify your step-by-step action plan to achieve each of your objectives. And it’s important to also include the habits, behaviors and skills you’ll need to develop. Ask yourself, “Who do you need to be in order to achieve your goals? How would that kind of person be operating on a daily basis?”

Mistake #4 — Focusing on too many things.

Diluted focus is a big issue for most entrepreneurs…but when everything is important, nothing is important. Less is more. Productivity experts FranklinCovey surveyed thousands of work teams and discovered that…

  • If a team has 2-3 three primary goals, they are likely to achieve 2-3 of them.
  • If a team has 3-10 primary goals, they are likely to achieve 1 or 2 of them.
  • If a team has 11 or more goals, they are like to achieve none of them.

Based on that data, 2-3 goals is the sweet spot.

Mistake #5 —  Not tracking your progress frequently enough.

Many business owners track their progress on a monthly, quarterly, or even a yearly basis. While you do need to check in on your results at each of those times, I encourage daily review of your progress toward your goals. After you create your marketing and business development plan, it should be clear what activities you need to execute on a daily/weekly basis in order to hit your targets. Here’s the process I follow (adapted from Jason Selk’s Success Log process in “Executive Toughness”):

  • At the end of each day, I write down 3 things I did well that day.
  • Using an Excel spreadsheet, I check off each of my target daily/weekly activities I executed on.
  • I  ask myself, “Based on today’s performance, what is the number one thing I want to improve tomorrow?” And then, “What is one thing I can do differently that could help me make that improvement?”

Mistake #6 — Underestimating the power of mindset.

This is a biggie!!! At the end of the day, your subconscious beliefs control your behaviors. So if your image of yourself does not match with the image of the person you need to become in order to achieve your goals, you will ultimately sabotage your success. There are a number of methods that have been proven to be effective in re-programming an outdated limited belief system, including affirmations, visualizations (e.g., vision boards, mind movies), hypnosis or EFT/tapping. I recommend working with an expert in these fields to help you break through any mindset barriers that can hold you back from achieving your goals.


I’d love to hear from you…Have you made any of these mistakes? Do you have any additional goal-setting tips? Feel free to share in the comments below.


Nick Pacheco January 12, 2014 at 12:40 am

Great tips Dana! Thx

Dana January 12, 2014 at 1:29 am

So glad you found them to be valuable, Nick! :)

Wendy Sabin, Profit Strategist January 14, 2014 at 12:32 am

Hi Dana
I couldn’t agree more with these comments. I like your tip about writing down 3 things you did well. Do you have a special journal for this, or keep it on your computer?

Dana January 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Hi Wendy – I personally have a special “success” journal where I record my success log…but I recommend customizing the process to what will work best for you personally! :)

Olivia Lane January 18, 2014 at 3:45 am

Thanks for pointing out mistake #5. I think I could benefit from tacking my progress daily. Great idea!

Dana January 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

So glad you found the tips valuable… :)