Why Not Set Goals?

There are five reasons people don’t set clear goals and write them. Many people say they can’t take time to sit and write, but no one is that busy. The real reasons are probably deeper, involving the fact that if they are kept in “the head,” it is easy to change, revise, or ignore them. This avoids accountability issues and facing failure. Looking further into the psychological reasons, we find the following four factors:
  • First, most people don’t realize the importance of goals. If you grow up in a home where no one has goals or you socialize with a group where goals are neither discussed nor valued, you can very easily reach adulthood without knowing that your ability to set and achieve goals will affect your life more than any other skill. Successful people are all committed to action plans. They set goals in writing and follow them.
  • They don’t know how to set goals. Some people confuse goals with wishes and fantasies. They think in terms of “having a lot of money,” “getting a great job,” “having a nice family,” “getting fit,” without breaking these wishes down into their parts and the action steps they would take. These aren’t goals, but wishes and fantasies common to everyone. A goal is different. It is clear, specific, and measurable. You know when you have achieved it.
  • They fear failure. If goals aren’t written, they can change them to match what is achieved without having to face any feelings of failure. Furthermore, many people make the mistake of setting goals that are easily attained to avoid failing. They end up going through life functioning at suboptimal levels rather than where they are truly able.
  • They fear rejection. The fourth reason people don’t set clear, written goals is that they fear others will see them as ridiculous if they fail. They don’t want to face criticism or to be seen as unable or unworthy.

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