The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Make Creating Your Goals

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Get your goals | 44 comments

I have a love/hate relationship with goals. The idea behind goals is great but most people get it all wrong when it comes to creating goals. They set the wrong goals for the wrong reasons.

When you set the wrong goals for the wrong reasons, you’re likely to feel discouraged and frustrated with yourself and your life. You’ll never feel good enough.

I won’t get started on ridiculous New Year’s Resolutions. I unequivocally loathe New Year’s Resolutions. Talk about not feeling good enough!

Okay, so maybe you’re still with me here, and thank you for that. Let’s look at the 5 biggest mistakes you’re making creating your goals, and the good part, what you can do differently (and better!)

The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Make When Creating Goals

01. Your goals are rooted in shame

Don’t set goals that focus on what you don’t like about yourself. Sure, we’ve all got shortcomings and it’s great to strive to be better today than yesterday, but if your goals are rooted in shame you’re unlikely to ever be truly happy with yourself or your life.

You’re a perfectly wonderful person just as you are. No, really, it’s true. You’re amazing! Own it, live it, love it. Love yourself! Set goals that help you feel great about yourself- not as you will be but just as you are.

02. Your goals compare yourself to others

Are your goals based in comparisons? Your path is your own, as are your skills, your talents, and your shortcomings. It’s never fair to compare. Stop comparing yourself to others.

If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, let it be yourself. Be better than you were before. Recognize and celebrate your progress. Keep learning, keep growing, keep challenging yourself, just don’t compare yourself to someone else.

03. You set goals you think will make you happy

If you think reaching your goals is going to make you happy, you’re wrong. Happiness comes from within. If you’re not happy today, you’re not going to be happy tomorrow.

Discover and celebrate happiness in your life today. Stop trying to create happiness on the outside and create it on the inside!

04. You confuse your goals with your dreams

There’s a difference between goals and dreams. Your dreams are those ideas that motivate and inspire you. Goals are specific behaviors and tasks that lead to accomplishment and growth. For example, your dream may be to travel the world, and your goal might be to take a trip to a place you’ve never been.

Let your dreams inspire your goals and set goals that you can accomplish.

05. Your goals are focused on results

How many times have you accomplished a goal only to realize that you didn’t get what you really wanted out of the experience? What about those times you didn’t meet your goal? When you focus too much on results, you set yourself up for disappointment.

Stop focusing on what you want to GET and focus on what you want to CREATE. There is likely more than one way to get it done- be open to learning as you go and finding new ways to create a life you love.

achieving goals

Which goal setting mistakes have you made in the past? What will you do differently in creating goals for the future? Now you’re ready to create goals that support and enrich your life!


  1. Thanks for this post. You really turned some ideas I’ve always had about goals or resolutions on their heads! Thank you, thank you, thank you especially for #1. We’d never put up with the negative self-talk and shaming goal-setting we do to ourselves, if it were coming from outside ourselves or was aimed at our daughters or friends. Why do we do this to ourselves? That’s the practice of a lifetime.

    • Hi Megan,

      I often check myself by asking myself if I would tell a friend or young child something I tell myself. If I wouldn’t say it to someone else, then it’s not appropriate for me, either! Sometimes I even visualize me as a child and consider what I am saying to my 6-year-old self. It’s a good method to re-frame my self-talk and my expectations of myself.

      I hope you find this helpful as you work on your goals! Thanks so much for stopping by!


  2. Great post. I love the idea of not rooting your goals in shame. That would eliminate a lot of those “Lose 30 pounds in the New Year” resolutions that people make. The goal should come from the energy you’ll feel when you’re healthier, not the shame you feel because your body isn’t where you want it to be. Powerful message.

    • Oh yes, Dequiana! I cringe when I see those “lose weight” goals because I know it’s most often rooted in shame! I’m all for being healthy and having a healthy body but a number on a scale does not equal health! The number on the scale can be a way to track progress, but I don’t think it’s best for an end goal.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!


  3. I always had a hard time sticking to the goals I set for myself. It wasn’t until I realized…it just wasn’t for me. What works for me is just staying true to my desires and focusing on the daily tasks I need to do, to keep me aligned with my passions. I guess it is a type of “goal setting”, but in my mind, it’s less of a”set” type of thing and more of, go with what flows…lol

    • Hi Tamyka!

      My process is very similar to yours. I set some goals for myself, but mostly I practice being intentional every day and it gets the job done! I use my vision board more often than setting goals. Once I’m clear on my vision board about what I’m trying to create, I let my vision board guide me.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. Thanks for posting. This has been a huge topic in a lot of circles lately. I keep thinking about what I am doing now compared to what I was doing in my past job. I am happy and content.

    • Hi Amy!

      Oh yes, there have been times in my career that I sought other work and went on interviews to help myself take stock of my situation and realize I was happy where I was at! That’s the kind of comparing I can really get behind!


  5. This is perfect for this time of year. I usually try to do little short term goals and work into the larger ones. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Dawn!

      I love how you break down your goals into manageable micro-goals. This is totally the way to go if you want to stick with your goals and stay motivated. Thanks for sharing!


  6. #4 is a big one soo many people get goals and dreams mixed up and are disappointed in the end.

    • Hi Juanita,

      Oh yes! Dreams are great and all, but it’s much more difficult to achieve your dreams than it is to break it down into goals.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  7. Amazing post. The mistakes that you listed provide a different perspective and promotes self-discovery. “Your Goals are Rooted in Shame.” You could have stopped right there. Powerful. Thank you so much for sharing. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    • Hello Zenobia!

      I appreciate your comment! It’s funny that when I sat down to write this I didn’t have the shame goal on my list and it just popped into my head as I was writing. I thought, “omg, yes!”

      How much of our behavior is motivated by fear or shame? It’s always a good check-in with myself- “do I have shame around this?”


  8. I really liked #5 my goals are always viewed as to what I csn get done, never thought to what I create.I like your post, its great!

    • Hi Elbony,

      I’m so happy you found some inspiration here! I love the idea of creation, because it focuses not only on what I can do, and also because it encourages me to think about being of service to the world and that’s hugely motivating!


  9. I can only work if I have goals. This is a great checklist for me to go through to make sure that my goal are aligned.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Janelle!

      I’m so happy you can use this as a checklist, and that’s a great idea! Maybe I’ll create a longer checklist for myself.


  10. What a thought inspiring post! I’ll have to re-examine all of my goals now :-) Great timing too, with January creeping up I should be able to word out which goals (both old and new) are worth striving for – thanks!

    • Hi Dermot,

      So glad you can use this post as a resource! Hope the new year brings you all the best!


  11. Great post! I was fascinated by #5. I guess I never separated goals from results and disappointment from goals! I’ve got some learning to do in this area I believe!

    • Hi Haley!

      People often look at my like I’m crazy when I suggest they don’t make goals based on results- haha! But it’s similar to the yoga principles of abhyasa and vairagya- a balance of effort and surrender. Progress comes from mindful effort while letting go of the result of your practice. For example, it is not important how far you go into a pose or how perfect the pose, only that you give the yoga practice your best effort.

      Thanks for your comment! Have a wonderful day!


  12. Great post! I’m very bad at goal setting and keeping them so this was an important read!

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Do you think setting goals will help you? I believe it’s useful for most people, but maybe not everyone. If you do want to set some goals for the new year, I hope this post is helpful for you!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  13. I think goals have a valuable place in life, especially ones you make with your family, but agree that there is a fine line between goals and dreams that can cloud things. Also, I never about using comparisons to make goals but as I look back I know a few of my goals were based off comparisons. Thanks for shining some light on that.

    • Hi Billie,

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, how many of us make goals that compare ourselves to others without even realizing what’s motivating us? Most of us have done it, I’m sure.

      Have a wonderful day!


  14. Great post! It’s great to see you have number 2 in there because that is a common problem. I agree we all have skills and talents, so there is no need to compare.

    • I used to compare myself to others and I see now I never really flourished as an individual until I stopped comparing and started living up to my own potential. I love to see others living up to their potential, too.

      Thanks for stopping by, Tammy!

      With gratitude,


  15. This post is SUPER powerful!!! I love the idea of creating goals that are not based on others’ perspectives, objectives, and lack of knowledge about your purpose. YES!! Let’s create goals that resonate with who we really are and allow us to live our full purpose. And then embrace the process. Because that’s half of the fun outside of the “achievement” of the goal.

    • I love your enthusiasm, Malla! I also love your suggestion to embrace the process- YES, indeed!

      I’m holding a goal setting workshop in January if the participants walk away with nothing else, I want them to leave the workshop being clear about their purpose and being prepared to have fun with their goals. :)

      Have a fantastic day!


  16. Great post! I especially like points shared goals that are rooted in shame and setting goals in comparison to other people. Great tips for goal setting!

    • Thanks for your comments, Danica!

      I often find behaviors are motivated by shame or fear and this trend is depressing. I hope I can help bring this habit to people’s attention so they can be positively motivated instead!


  17. Great post! I’m launching my first course in January and it’s going to be teaching goal setting. One of the main factors that I’m teaching is how to take your dreams and break them down into small actionable goals.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Stephanei!

      I’m also working on a goal setting workshop for January and that’s what prompted this post!

      Turning dreams into actionable steps is a great way help people get started on setting the right goals for the right reasons. Is your course online or in-person?


      • My course is going to be online (through Teachable) although I wouldn’t mind presenting it as an in-person workshop for ladies in my home county and the surrounding area. As long as I’m reaching women who need to learn good goal setting techniques, I’ll consider it a success.

        • I love your attitude!

          I’m thinking about putting together my first online course. So far I’ve only done in-person events but obviously I can reach more people online.


  18. GREAT post! I definitely realized I needed to make my own goals that align with my purpose. Many people will tell us what we should do, but life is more fulfilling when we march to sound of our own beat. We only have one life, and I’d rather live it knowing I didn’t need to make someone else’s dream for my life come true.

    • Yes! It’s all about aligning with your purpose- not just your goals but everything! Thoughts, beliefs, words, actions all aligned with purpose is a wonderful way to live!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  19. I have never thought about goal setting with these things in mind! Wow!! Super sobering and great insight

    • I hope you can use these ideas to set purposeful goals, Kayla!

      Have a wonderful day!


  20. Being realistic with obtainable goals is KEY…great post!

    • Realistic and obtainable are so important!

      I was chatting with someone about goals today and he said he uses R cubed for SMART goals- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Risk-worthy, and Rewardable, and Timely. I liked his addition of the R’s!


  21. Chrysta,

    I know this post will resonate with many people on the path of personal growth, especially as we approach the New Year!

    To answer your questions, I’ve set goals in the past that were about proving myself to others. I failed to reach them because they didn’t truly resonate with me. As I set goals for the future, I base them on my deep, enduring values and desires. These goals are not only attainable, but I also ENJOY taking the steps to reach them every day.

    Thank you for sharing such relevant advice!



    • Hi Alana! Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes! Your example of setting goals that prove yourself to others is a great example of setting a goal with ineffective motivation. I was actually thinking about this last night and times I’ve pushed myself to prove myself to others. Even when I accomplished what I set out to do, the response from others is rarely what I was hoping for- other people weren’t impressed because they were never concerned about me in the first place!

      I do enjoy setting a goal to prove myself to myself- such as challenging myself to do something I’m scared to try. I always learn from the experience and realize I can do things I didn’t think I could do. If I’m scared to try something, I’ll usually try it just to face my fear.

      Have a wonderful day!


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