8 Mistakes We Make When Setting Aims

We are all taught throughout our life that dreams are just unsystematized goals. Every dream eventually comes true, as it transforms into the right aim. After a person takes a pragmatic approach to their aim, the pathway to it commonly comes naturally. However, to achieve the determined purposes, one also should follow the principles of goal setting to see the results quickly. Along with the principles that are sure to lead one to success, there are mistakes people make, eventually facing roadblocks. Most of these mistakes are about attitudes and experience, and one can easily avoid them. So, let’s review the most common mistakes and forget about them for good!

#1 Chasing global aims

The common misconception about goals is that they all must be of a life-changing scale. Indeed, when one grows established enough, they aim at buying a house or creating a successful startup (in which success is also clearly defined, but we will move to that later). As one learns to set objectives, even the homework is a planning practice. For example, a student can approach the completion of an assignment from a perspective of performance, which is “How will I write my assignment?”. Or they can approach it from the perspective of task delegation, which is approaching a third party with a request, “Can you write my paper for me and help me get an A?” In both cases, the result will be achieved, but the scale of the goal was small. Thus, to plan big, learn to manage small.

#2 Aiming too big

It is another mistake that is similar to the previous one, yet it has an important distinction. This is the maximalism trap. People should dare to dream and plan, going surely to the end. However, an unrealistically maximalist goal without a roadmap can hurt one’s motivation and lead to failure. For that reason, it is important to consider reality and one’s capabilities in achieving that goal. So set a goal productively, and make sure there are ways to achieve it realistically. Think of the roadmap based on what is accessible at the moment of planning and define the growth opportunities that will eventually lead to the aim’s success.  

#3 Aiming vaguely

Even if the aim is objectively realistic and achievable, one can face a lot of failures if they don’t define the success of the goal. If one does not have the measure of success, they don’t know if they ever achieve it. Say one wants to learn French. In fact, even the B2 level is a certain achievement in language learning, but this is definitely what one expects. However, with the right wording, they will know where to move. In this case, the measure of success will be “being able to watch films in French” or “being able to have a casual conversation with a native.” With the defined expectations, it is easier to make a roadmap and achieve the aim.

#4 Missing checkpoints

Even a big and ambitious aim is not unachievable. However, if one only has the starting point, the end result, and nothing in between, it may turn out disappointing. The best way to make it possible is the method that time management experts call “eating the elephant.” It is impossible to eat the elephant in one sitting or in one piece. Hence, one must split it into achievable goals and follow them one by one. First, this approach ensures that you are not overwhelmed on your way to the big aim. Second, the sense of accomplishment from the intermediate aims will keep you motivated.

#5 Chasing wrong goals

Sometimes, people do not achieve goals because they do not really want them. Or, as psychologists put it, they have insufficient motivation. Sometimes, people get trapped in the expectations of their parents, friends, or society at large, and they end up either sabotaging their imaginary goals or being unhappy even with their achievements. To avoid this trap, be sure you are chasing what you really want and enjoy doing, even if figuring it out may take some time. 

#6 Juggling goals

The more ambitions one has, the more motivated one stays. However, it can be a mistake to start all your aims at once. It is best to build a system of achieving your aims and prioritizing them. Just as it goes with the intermediate checkpoints on your way to the end result, achieving one goal at a time will be easier and even more rewarding. Chasing many goals at once can lead to quick burnout and disappointment from failing several goals.

#7 Setting negative aims

Setting negative goals may play a trick on your brain. It is believed that our brain does not perceive the negation part. Hence, this is why when a person tries to avoid doing something, they end up thinking about that thing constantly and breaking their own rules. This mistake is as avoidable as #3. All it takes to switch the perspective is to state it affirmatively and with a solid measure of the result. For example, instead of an aim “Not eat junk food,” go for “Only easy chips on weekends.”

#8 Not appreciating failures

When the goals fail, people usually lament the time spent on their achievement. It is usually followed by the feeling of shame and underachievement, which is why our brain rushes to dismiss everything about failure. However, such a case contains experience one can use to avoid mistakes in the future. Thus, take lessons from failures, not the sense of shame. A failure can hurt and demotivate, but it is up to the person to see it as wasted time or as taking a lesson out of it.


Every mistake shows an opportunity to grow. Among time management and planning errors, the most fundamental ones are those to do with goal setting, as it is a foundation for the future plan. The most common mistakes described above can be solved with a clear vision, motivation, and tenacity. They are avoidable, so a person needs to keep following their objectives even if it takes several tries.

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