14 Common Misconceptions About Goal Setting

It is no wonder 80% of people do not set goals in life…and only 6% of those who set goals achieve these in life. 

Everyone knows about goal setting. But rarely do you find a person who sets practical, scalable, and attainable written goals. The popular misconceptions and myths about goal-setting are among the prime aspects most people feel the hitch about goals. 

Let’s dive in to explore the common goal-setting misconceptions everyone should know to avoid mistakes. 

#1. I Know My Goals…No Need for Goal-Setting

It is impossible to value goals unless you realize the significance of having one in life. Often thoughts, aspirations, and dreams are interchangeably used to describe goals. 

Unfortunately, desires and dreams are abstracts in the human mind. Goals are practical objectives you aim to achieve in life or a career. 

Even if you have goals in mind, it is vital to write them down. The STAMP (specific, transformative, applicable/actionable, measurable, and purpose-driven) framework anticipates the primary criteria for goal setting. 

#2. It is not necessary to Write Down the Goals

According to Dr. Gail Matthews, Dominican University of California, people are 42% more likely to achieve physically recorded (written) goals

Today writing down goals is as easy as pie. All thanks to the digital planners with intuitive interface. You can do it on an Android tablet or iPad with a touchscreen pen. Choose a preferred online planner from a pool of free and premium ones.

#3. It is Wrong to Share Goals 

Unless you have a personal goal, there is no point in secrecy. The silo work culture is outdated imposing serious concerns. Team effort and inter-departmental transparency take center stage today, breaking the age-old workplace practices. 

#4. Start Goals on the New Year 

Goals are much more than a New Year resolution. So, you do not have to wait until the end of the year to start working on a new goal. 

If you have an idea, start as early as possible to achieve more. Time is a pivotal factor since unnecessary delays cost you lucrative opportunities.  

#5. Those Who Set More Goals Achieve More 

Working on multiple goals at a time is not easy. It only diverts attention into various arenas. Those who work on multiple goals schedule separate time slots for each. This allows you to focus on a single goal at a time to boost your chances of success. 

If your mind is jumbled up with too many goals, prioritize those based on their value, success, achievement, and growth opportunities. You will always have time in the future for the goals left out for the time being. 

#6. Brainstorm Ideas Before Goal Setting

Goal-setting is not about group discussions or team planning. It begins with individual values, outlook, and planning. 

You can always set goals based on your knowledge, aspirations, and thinking. 

#7. Follow the SMART Goal Format

Most goal-setting enthusiasts stick to the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and target-oriented/time-bound) framework. But does that work in practical life? 

There is an inclination to set simple goals when focusing on attainability. Such goals do not add value to your progress graph, be it in your personal or professional life. Extended deadlines and short and simple tasks only mean you achieve little to nothing. 

While SMART goal-setting may be ideal for beginners, most enterprise-level goals are set on more complex frameworks such as OKR (Objectives and Key Results). 

#8. Setting Hard Goals can be Distressful

The fear of failure often poses a hindrance to taking up onerous goals. But to an achiever, failure is only another learning experience. 

Setting the bar high provides the opportunity to take up challenges. As you proceed, it contributes to your learning graph and lays the foundation for success. 

#9. Future is Unpredictable, So Long-Term Goals Don’t Work

There is a reluctance to set long-term goals (also in the professional domain) since nothing is static in life. 

Long-term goals are not always hard to attain. You may need to set plans in various phases to succeed with these goals. Break a long-duration goal into different segments and allocate tasks for each to make all of it happen. 

#10. I Have Set My Goals…I Will Surely Achieve Success  

Just because you have a written goal does not guarantee your success. You must also work hard in line with a measurable plan of action to accomplish those goals. 

Goal-setting is the initial step to achieving something in life. It is not an achievement in itself. 

#11. I Have a Current Goal, No Need to Set a New One

There is no rule on how many goals you can set. It is up to you to set as many goals as you want to achieve in your personal life, career, or anything else. 

When a new goal hits, it is worth writing it down. You will have enough scope to make changes, set deadlines, or develop a plan of action later. 

The traditional pen-and-paper planner may not help you with multiple goal-setting. A digital planneris a reliable platform to draft, edit, or delete to-dos, goals, plans, etc.  

#12. Goals Can’t Be Changed 

This is a popular and disheartening misconception about goal-setting. As you proceed with your efforts on a written goal, new challenges or circumstances make it inevitable to achieve the goals. 

It all depends on your viewpoint. Be flexible to modify your goals (partly/entirely) based on the current situation so that you can attain them in the future. 

#13. Fixed Deadlines are a Must for Goal-Setting

No matter for what purpose you set a goal, time is an eminent part of the process. However, goals are not always time-bound. A deadline allows you to stay focused on the time while in action. 

Life happens…so it may not be possible to meet deadlines every time. If you fail a deadline, try to reprogram a new deadline. Success in goal-setting lies in flexibility. 

#14. Not Attaining a Goal Means Failure

Missing a goal is not synonymous with failure. You tried your best but did not succeed due to a determinant factor. It helps with the learning process of how to set a measurable and achievable goal in the future. 

Setting goals and leveraging efforts to achieve them helps a person stay focused on an actionable plan. 

In conclusion, 

Myths and misconceptions in goal-setting only obstruct your possibilities to explore and achieve in life. When you have a plan, it is worth writing this down and setting tasks, time slots, and notes. It serves as a reference to streamline your efforts towards a better future. 

Hauwa’s outside-the-box approach to planning and time management has helped her clients throw out their long overwhelming to-do lists, and still get more done in a day. She designs digital planners that enable clients create systems that actually work. You have more time than you think you do.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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