Is Goal Setting Holding You Back?
By Douglas Vermeeren
Have you ever set a goal and wondered why you couldn’t accomplish
it? You are not the first person to feel this way. In fact, studies
show that more than 86 percent of people who set goals fail. And, of
those who do succeed, a surprising 30 percent find they are not able
to maintain the newly acquired success in the long term. So, why
even set goals?
The truth is, the traditional goal-setting method is no longer
effective, even though most teachers, books, trainers, coaches and
schools are still teaching it. You have no doubt heard this method
many times: write it down, set a date, make an action plan, and
build the steps backwards from success. Unfortunately, this is NOT
the correct formula for success. The world’s top achievers – the
best of the best – achieve success by doing things a bit
Why top achievers don’t use traditional goal setting: The
traditional goal-setting method was developed in the late 1800s in
the manufacturing industry; if you wanted to produce X number of
units at the end of the assembly line you would need to do A, B, C,
and D and presto – you would get X number of units. While this
method works well in factories, it will produce limited, short-lived
results for people.
The problem is this system only takes the process into account, not
the participant. We are human “BEings” not human “DOings.” This
common formula teaches what we can DO but not what we can BE.
Without a significant change in our thinking, behavior and
expectations, we can never develop a habit of success – one that
develops regardless of the process we use. Goal achievement is not
just about process; it must first address the participant. If you
want long-term success, being the right person is just as important
as doing the right things.
Top achievers get clarity on why they are going: Many
goal-setting coaches encourage their students to gain clarity on
where they want to go in order to get there. While this idea is
accurate, most people fail to define what clarity really is.
Many describe clarity as a description of the final destination –
where you see yourself in 10 years? Anyone who has tried to define
clarity this way has found that it’s extremely difficult to describe
where he is going if he have never been there before. Therefore,
this definition of clarity is incomplete when used in the context of
While you should outline as many of these details as possible before
you begin on the road to achieving a specific goal, you must
understand and accept that no matter how hard you try, you can never
really have a complete picture of that end destination.
Clarity is strongest when it focuses on an “inward now,” instead of
looking at a “geographical location.” In other words, clarity has
more to do with why you want something than with what
you want. Instead of just trying to describe where you are going,
ask yourself why you are going there.
What does this mean to you? The more personal you can make this
goal, the more power and motivation you will have to get it. Make
your “why” strong, and keep digging deeper with questions until you
have a burning desire to attain it. Most of the reasons why people
fail to achieve a specific goal can be traced right back to this one
point. Without a reason “why,” no one really cares about the
destination of “what.”
Top achievers don’t think of success as crossing a finish line,
they think in terms of running the race: It’s very interesting
to see posters encouraging people who endeavor to capture their
success by crossing a finish line, because the truth is, true
success has no finish line. Top achievers understand that success
is a continual process, and the successes and failures of today are
used to build the powerful experiences of tomorrow. Every
opportunity today is contributing to an opportunity tomorrow. Every
experience contributes to learning.
If you cross a finish line today only to rest tomorrow, how can your
success continue? Look for ways to continue to grow and expand, and
uncover ways to build each success upon the next opportunity.
Top achievers set their goals differently, and that is why they
achieve successes that others only dream about. Learning to “BE”
instead of just to “DO,” gaining true clarity by finding out “why”
and committing to continual growth is essential in the achievement
process. When you understand and implement the principles of top
achievement, dramatic changes will happen for you.
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