Effective goal setting: 4 common mistakes to avoid when setting goals

Effective goal-setting

Now is the ideal time for leaders to sit down to think about what they want their business to look like in a year’s time. Effective goal setting is not as simple as writing down large-scale objectives and hoping you achieve them.

Many people consequently make mistakes in this process, forgetting that goal setting is actually the first step in the process, to achieving desired goals. With this in mind, here are some of the most common mistakes that are easy to avoid with the right guidance:

  1. Don’t forget your personal goals for effective goal setting

The goals you have for your business aren’t the only directives that should shape the months ahead. All too often, senior executives make a plan for the new year that doesn’t account for their own personal goals.

Most leaders spend the majority of their time working tirelessly on the company, to ensure it achieves greater value for shareholders or competes better in its particular market. It’s easy to neglect your personal investment in these goals, the impact on your life as well as that of the company. Answering the question of why, will help you to find a balance.

  1. Misunderstanding your needs

Most of you will be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but how many of you are confident applying it to your everyday lives? As a leader, you need to be aware of how your position dictates your needs and shape your goals accordingly.

It’s almost a given that some of the lower levels of the pyramid such as physiological and safety needs will be taken care of, which means you can focus on more of the self-fulfilment needs that sit closer to the top. Achieving your potential through self-actualisation can really help you understand why you do what you do, and how you need to shape goals accordingly.

  1. These are not just your goals

Take the time to talk through your goals. Whether it’s your spouse, your children or other family members, talk through your ideas for the future. As these people may be just as affected by your decisions as you and have an invested interest.

For your personal goals, it can be as simple as regular date nights for you and your partner, or as grand as meeting savings goals and travelling more. The point is that it builds on that personal element mentioned above, and helps to build that why that links your objectives with that of the business.

For your business goals, you may want to find a mentor or business advisor to talk through your goals.

  1. Forgetting to be accountable

The other positive that stems from bringing family into the goal-setting process is that they can help you stay accountable. It’s not just you ticking off a list by yourself, it’s important people in your life asking ‘how are we going with our goals?’. This is especially important with regards to personal goals, as these people add just a bit of extra motivation and ensure your progress is being tracked.

It’s not just family that can keep you on your toes either. Sharing personal goals with a peer group or mentor, means you have yet another audience that isn’t afraid to ask you tough questions about your achievements as the year progresses. Maybe the friendly pressure of a surprise interrogation every now and again will result in the motivation you need to keep on track with your goals.

Overall it easier to set up goals that are achievable and to follow through on your promises by creating personal connections and genuine measures of accountability as the first step.


Ian NealBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Ian Neal

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