What’s your personal or professional goal this year?
I use the end of the year and the beginning of the next one, to reflect on my goals.
I like to evaluate the things that worked and the ones that didn’t, especially to not insist on a strategy that didn’t work.
In this post I’d like to share some mistakes when planning an objective, to make the process of getting it easier.
Mistakes when planning your goal
1st Mistake: Wanting to include too much
- Are you one of those people who make endless to-do lists and who then realize you only did 2 or 3 things?
One of my biggest mistakes in the past few wears was wanting to achieve SEVERAL objectives.
- How many goals do you plan every year?
It will definitely depend on how big they are and the time and energy they require.
But tell me:
- Did you achieve all your objectives last year?
If you did, congratulations! If you didn’t, how many did you achieve: 2? 3? 5 objectives?
- Why plan 10 objectives if you usually achieve 3?
I propose defining just 1 main objective and 2 or 3 extra ones. This means that if you use all your energy to achieve that main objective progressively, you’ll probably go further than if you’d included too many.
If in the middle of the year you consider that you’ve achieved them, you can plan 3 more with another main one.
2nd Mistake: Not knowing how to prioritize
To prioritize is to define what’s most important at that moment and do that first.
Sounds easy, right?
For example, for me, having a blog, a website, online services, etc. is something I didn’t have before. There are so many things to do that, sometimes, I don’t know which is the main one.
The importance of a task depends on what you want to get from it.
For example with my web, I can wonder: what’s more important AT THIS MOMENT for me?
Depending on what I answer, the tasks will be different.
And the answer will change depending on the “moment”, because maybe this week or month I can focus on one thing and then that can change. But I’ll have to prioritize.
What if you don’t prioritize?
You may invest time in things that won’t get you closer to your objective.
You may feel like you can’t, but that’s not true, you’re just doing the unimportant things first.
It’s a matter of defining first what’s important at that moment and then choosing to do that first.
3d Mistake: Not defining the objective well
If you don’t know where you need to get, you can’t plan the journey.
What’s the destination?
Defining the objective well will help you know where you want to arrive and plan each stop on your trip.
You need to find objectives that meet the SMART requirements:
Specific: try to figure out your summary
Abstract words of wanting to have more… “happiness”, “self-esteem”, “security” aren’t good.
- What do those words mean to you?
- What has to happen in your life for you to know that you have what you want?
Measurable: You need to find a way to measure if you’re getting closer to your objective or not.
There are easier cases, for example, “going to the gym twice a week” and harder ones, like feeling better, but even so,
- How will you know that you “you feel better”?
- What different things have to happen in your life for you to know you’re on the right way?
Achievable: something you can really achieve.
First, you need to evaluate the time, money, energy, dedication, etc. you’ll need to achieve your objective.
The idea is to find a balance between a big enough objective that motivates you, but little enough to achieve it.
My personal opinion is that you start little, to increase your motivation and get the experience that will help you define bigger goals.
Realistic: this characteristic is a little harder to define because what you want and what’s possible may not coincide.
For example, you can’t expect to grief a breakup for a week and immediately feel happy. That’s not realistic.
Imagine blocking everyone and avoiding any social contact after the breakup. When a realistic goal could be going out for a walk every week with a friend.
Limit your time: it’s not the same to achieve something in 3 months than in a year.
Experts say that you should ideally plan objectives that you can achieve in 6 months to a year. If you don’t achieve them at that time, you can lose sight of them. Ideally, they should be biannual or annual objectives that are then sub-divided into monthly objectives. This will help you follow them through without diverting.
Once you’ve defined your objective well and have a good idea of how you want to achieve it, planning it will be much easier.
4th Mistake: Not drawing a roadmap
Once you have an annual objective and monthly goal, then you need to define your tasks.
A task is an action that has to be done.
The danger of not having a roadmap or defined tasks is that you can do several things without getting anywhere.
I advise you to find a specific day and hours to define your roadmap.
What tasks do you need to do to achieve your goal this month?
You can also have weekly or daily tasks. And then define tasks for today and every day of the week.
So, when are you creating your roadmap?
5th Mistake: Insisting on strategies that don’t work
This is a common misconception.
We work in curious ways, you may define a goal for a year, but your strategies may now work.
The following year, you may have the same objective and do the same thing that DIDN’T work last year, and then decide to insist on that.
If you signed up for the gym and didn’t go, why are you still there?
Sign up for something else, but not the gym. Dance, hike, do martial arts, tennis, etc.
Whatever motivates you.
But if you sign up for the gym several years in a row and don’t go, why do it again?
Don’t insist! It doesn’t work!
If your strategy for losing weight was going to the gym and it didn’t work, change your strategy!
Inspect which strategies DO work and continue doing them, and which DON’T work and stop doing them. Then, find alternatives to stop insisting on what doesn’t work for you.
6th Mistake: Being unrealistic with your deadlines
You want to act and hit the target at the first try.
But you need to keep the obstacles, unexpected events, blocks, etc. that may appear along the way in mind.
And I can say that people are usually very optimistic when calculating the time a task can take.
To be more realistic with your deadlines, I propose some options:
- Plan to do a certain task for two hours. When that is done, start doing the next planned task even if you haven’t finished the first one. But then you’ll need to allocate more time to it when planning your following day or week.
- Calculate the time you think you’ll need and double it, so you’ll have some leeway to not overwhelm yourself.
- Only plan 4 days, and then leave the 5th day for unfinished tasks.
Remember to be more tolerant and patient with yourself, readjust the time you really need.
7th Mistake: Planning a lot and acting.
- Do you feel that you still haven’t planned things enough to act?
- Do you still need to learn more things?
- Have you been planning for a week and you feel that you can’t start anything yet?
Then, you’ve gotten caught up on planning.
When you start something new, you first feel like you need to know everything before acting, but this can be an excuse to not face your fears.
Then, try to take action with minimal planning.
You don’t need to know everything nor having everything under control. You just have to act.
And if you’re afraid, it’s ok, that’s normal. Accept your fears, take them with you but keep going.
You’ll be able to readjust your planning later if you need to.
In fact, by gaining more hands-on experience, you’ll see tasks you hadn’t thought of because you hadn’t started yet.
My goal for this year
I have to confess that this isn’t just for “this” year, as it’s one of my favorite objectives, because it’s the most difficult one for me: Avoiding dispersion.
What’s your goal for next year?
Do you dare tell me in the comments?
In summary, when planning, don’t try to avoid every mistake, as this can delay achieving what you want.