3 Goal-Setting Mistakes That Will Derail your 2017

I’ve studied subjects ranging from linguistics to gender studies to abnormal psychology during my many years of schoolwork. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen a class dedicated to goal-setting.

rusted car symbolizing failures in goal-setting

Everything I’ve learned about this topic has been through a process of trial and error. I often write about what works when it comes to personal development, but it’s also helpful to look at those “oh crap” moments.

Here are 3 goal-setting mistakes that will derail your year if you let them:

1. Pursuing Goals That Aren’t Clear

Aspirations such as lose weight, spend more time with family, or increase savings are great starting points, but these loose notions aren’t goals just yet. Got a bit further to make your goals crystal clear in your mind.

How much weight do you plan to lose and by when? What does “more time with family” look like exactly and how will you make it so? We’ve all heard of the SMART goals convention – goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based – but we need to apply this rubric to our goal pursuits if we’re going to make them a reality.

2. Setting Too many goals

I used to make this mistake. I was supremely motivated, and I made sure to capitalize on the natural renewal that comes with the beginning of a new year. One year, I schemed and schemed, and I developed a roster of 53 personal goals. As the year progressed, there were points where I felt I was investing as much time in managing my goals as achieving them.

Especially if you’re just starting out, choose a manageable number of goals to chase. I recommend 5-8 across a few parts of your life. If things are going well, you can always stack on new goals later.

3. Starting Too Many New Things at Once

Changing behaviors and habits is one of the most difficult parts of goal attainment, second only to changing your mindset. It’s tempting to start a new year strong by introducing several new behaviors at once. Drive by the parking lot of any health club during the first two weeks of January, and you’ll see that they’re bursting with eager goal seekers.

Life can get in the way without focus, though, and if you take on too much change, you may soon find yourself off track. This year, I’ve decided that I’d like to meditate every day. I’ve given myself permission, however, not to begin until April so I can make room for new fitness and writing goals until then.

Fortunately, these common problems don’t have to derail your year. Take this opportunity to check in on your 2017 goals. If you haven’t set any yet, this is the perfect time!

Get clear about what you want to accomplish and who you want to become this year. Set a few goals that really resonate with you, and focus on the mindset and behavior changes it will take to achieve them. Accept that growing into your goals is better than putting them at risk by taking on too much at once.

(Featured image by Unsplash.com.)


What poses the greatest threat to your goal pursuits this year, and how do you plan to overcome it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “3 Goal-Setting Mistakes That Will Derail your 2017

  1. Real nice photo! Is the fella next to you your helper, he is very handsome?

    • What’s sad, Sue, is that my beloved bride snapped dozens photos of me during this shoot. Problem is that I’m incredibly awkward and camera-shy. This was the best of the bunch, so Gunner gets his 15 minutes of fame!