7 Goal Setting Mistakes

Discover 7 goal setting mistakes that you might be making. Studies have indisputably proven the efficacy of goal setting. But far too many people don't know how to set goals correctly. This video shares goal setting wisdom to give yourself the best chance of actually achieving your goals.



As we all know, goal setting is fundamental to success in any endeavor in life. And many people learn the basics of goal setting from the acronym SMART, coined by the late Jim Rohn. The SMART acronym goes like this:

S is for Specific: Your goal must be specific. If your goal is to be the most successful person in the world, well, success in what? Be specific.

M is for Measurable: You need to be able to quantify when you've reached that goal as well as how far you are away from where you're starting from. If you said you want to be the most successful person in the world, well, how is that measured? It needs to be specific and measurable.

A is for Attainable: It also needs to be attainable in the physical world. For example, if your goal is to own all the real estate in your town, that may not be attainable because not everybody in your town wants to sell no matter how much money you have.

R is for Realistic: I actually disagree with this. I don't like the word realistic. I think you should set unrealistic goals.

T is for Timeframe: Every goal needs to have a timeframe, a deadline.

These are the fundamentals of goal setting that you must have. However, the following seven mistakes go beyond the basics. This teaching will take you from a high school diploma to a PhD in goal setting.


7 Goal Setting Mistakes


Mistake #1: Too Big Too Short

The first mistake is setting goals that are too big in too short a timeframe. Bill Gates said that most people overestimate what they can do in one year, but they underestimate what they can do in 10 years. And I have seen that to be true in my career as a mentor as well. So you want to set smaller goals in the short term, but then make your long term goals unrealistic. You don't ever want to be setting goals about fastest, soonest, and biggest. You want to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable and within a timeframe, but you want to set them to go big long term and small short term.


Mistake #2: Not Praying

Most of you believe in a higher power, an omnipresent, omniscient controller and creator of the universe. If you’re a believer, then you should be praying about your goals. When you set a goal, make sure you pray and submit it to God and His will for your life.

Now I think also this can go a little overboard sometimes. God cares deeply about right and wrong decisions. But He also provides a lot of latitude in our lives, and we are free to make decisions that don’t violate His laws. Just because you prayed and didn't get a lightning bolt from heaven that yes, you should set that goal, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for that goal. You just want to put it through the God filter and make sure it's not completely against his plans for your life.


Mistake #3: No Why

In other words, you don't know why you want to achieve that goal. Every goal you set needs to have a why, a reason, the drive, the motivation for you to achieve the goal. If you don't have that why, it's a goal with no power.

Every goal needs a powerful motivator. And pain is a powerful motivator. What's the pain you'll experience in your life if you don't achieve the goal? And then on the flip side, what is the pleasure if you do achieve the goal?

Pain is a more powerful motivator than pleasure. For example, some of you have tried to lose weight before and it was the pain that drove you to get there versus the pleasure. Health complications from obesity is a more powerful motivator than simply the pleasure of being lighter and more physically fit. When discerning your “why”, you need to start with why achieving your goal will help you avoid pain, and then consider the pleasure as well. So, always have a “why” for every goal you set.


Mistake #4: No Plan

Another mistake people make is not having a plan on how to accomplish a goal. So, you've set your goal, it’s measurable with a timeframe, but how will you get there? For some of the bigger long-term goals you may not have an initial plan, but you can begin to create one over time as you learn more. You may have to talk to different people about how to create one. Or study people that have already accomplished your goal and follow their lead. Regardless of how you go about it, you need to have a plan for achieving each goal. Otherwise, you've just got this mantra that you keep reading and fantasizing about. If you don't have a plan on how you're going to get there, you may never get there. To say it another way, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


Mistake #5: No Next Action

Each plan needs to be broken down so that you have a next action for each goal. This propels you one step at a time toward that goal. I have lists and lists of next actions. They don’t need to be big next actions, but always having a next action allows you to get one step closer to your goals. I learned this from my mentor and it has been revolutionary for me. He was always preaching this concept of "what's the next action". When you get into this mental habit of what's the next action and always have it written down, it provides a small stepping stone to get closer and closer to your goal.


Mistake #6: No Adjustments

Another common mistake is not adjusting over time. So much is always changing in our lives. If you look back three years ago, you had a different perspective than you do today. Which means you need to constantly adjust your goals. Not only might you adjust the measure or timeframe by which you meet the goal, but you may also be adding to your why or adjusting your plan and adjusting your next actions. The more that you can make small adjustments, the more it means you're focused on accomplishing that goal.

  • Don’t get stuck in a rut. Instead, be flexible.
  • Maybe the plan is going to have to change a bit because our world has changed.
  • Or maybe your perspective has changed so the goal isn’t important to you anymore.
  • You need to still have that why, so if the why's not there anymore, get rid of it.

So be flexible and adjust your goal over time. When you are flexible it shows that you're being real with yourself and real with how the world works. And if you are stuck in a rut, that in and of itself is a problem because you might reach the goal, but it's a goal you didn't want to achieve anymore because your “why” has changed.


Mistake #7: Give Up

Last but certainly not least is to give up after you miss a goal. I see this sometimes, especially with Christians when they don't achieve a goal. They just assume God is telling them that maybe this wasn’t something they should have been pursuing to begin with. Nonsense. You must adjust. And if you miss a goal, just set a new goal. It doesn't need to be all spiritual and emotional. Instead, look critically at what the plan was and why you didn’t get there. What adjustments do you need to make? What new goals should you set? Do you still have the why? But certainly, don't give up.

If we look back to the Old Testament, the Israelites were stuck in the desert for 40 years. And Moses didn't even get to see the Promised Land. But it was still God's plan that his people would be in the Promised Land. So don't give up after a missed goal, just set a new goal and set another goal after that. And if you achieve a goal, set another one too. We need to always be in a world of goal setting because if we're not, our life is going to be rudderless. We're going to just be blown around by all the different changes that occur in this world.



  1. Set lower short-term goals and higher long-term goals.
  2. Pray and put your goals through the God filter.
  3. Every goal needs a motivation. You need a reason, that drive behind why you want to accomplish your goal. You need a big why.
  4. Every goal needs a plan even though that plan will change over time.
  5. Then you need to break those plans down into next actions. There should always be a next action for every goal.
  6. You need to be flexible and adjust over time. As the world changes, as your why changes, as your perspective changes, make adjustments.
  7. And most importantly, don't give up just because you don't reach your goal. It doesn't mean God doesn't want you to be there. It might mean that you need to make some adjustments and continue to set goals.



  1. Great Video 👍👍
    Needed 2 Hear This.. 👌
    JohnCat 😎

  2. Carlton Garrett says

    I want to know how I can come apart of the team

  3. Abiola Aderibigbe says

    Great insight! You mean KNOW WHY though

  4. Mr BillC says

    Great discussion on goal setting.
    Creative financing Technics v.s. emotional energy to find deals in changing markets

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