I’ve been working in the space of goal setting for years both as a client and a teacher. I have been drilled on all the traditional successful goal setting techniques that are hyper masculine and hyper hustle culture. Frankly they’re not particularly helpful for women and nonbinary people, especially if they’re neurodivergent.
So rest assured this isn’t going to be about how you need to map things out more effectively, break things down into even more steps, go harder than you already are, or the most unhelpful advice I’ve ever had “you just have to decide you want it!”
I lived many years of frustration and shame as I set out to achieve goals. Supposed mentors implied that my failure to reach a goal was a personal failing of character rather than any number of other factors. And I realised that their unhelpful, somewhat unempathetic stance was merely their own confusion. Apparently they couldn’t work out why the aggressively given advice of a single, white, childless, 20 year old dude being yelled at me was somehow missing the mark.
So whilst goal setting and achieving your goals is ultimately a very personalised process that needs to be tailored to your circumstances, here are a few common mistakes to ditch for the best chance of success.
#1 Picking something you don’t actually want… because it’s what you’re supposed to want
I see this one soooo much and have personally been guilty of it too. You get swept up in the excitement, it sounds pretty cool so why not go after it! Maybe there’s an incentive, maybe it’s what your peers value, maybe your family have nudged you in the direction.
Whether it’s a white picket fenced home, 2.5 children, 10k months, or the lap top lifestyle, some goals seem to float in the ether seeping into our thoughts and perceptions of a desirable life. But if you don’t really want it, if it doesn’t really align to you and your values, you will sabotage it.
Stop picking goals off society’s menu and start getting really clear about what you’re trying to achieve, and more importantly why your trying to achieve it. What lifestyle and work feels good to you and allows for you to be your true self?
Also be clear on what short term sacrifices you’re prepared to make. For example, you will self sabotage a financial goal that requires dedicating more of your time if your reason for the goal is to supposedly to spend more time with your family.
#2 Being misaligned with your values
Financial security, health, family, success/personal accomplishment, harmony, approval… what are your core values?
And I don’t mean the ones you would like to be your values because they’re aspirational and virtuous. I mean your ACTUAL values. The ones that when it comes down to the crunch determine your actions.
For years I felt ashamed as I sat in rooms with women in business, gushing about how their family is their why. I loved my kids but they weren’t the driving force behind most of my goals. I felt like a bad mum for being more driven by acquiring new knowledge, financial security so I could spend money on me guilt free, and opportunities for self actualisation.
Not only do our values influence our drive, they often sit in a hierarchy, which means when they’re are in conflict one will win out over another. Honesty and integrity may be important values to you but they may well lose in a battle to protect your kids if your family value sits higher in the pecking order. SO when aligning to your goals it’s important to align them to your values and consider the hierarchy too.
Identify your key values in the order you prioritise them and goal set accordingly. If you have existing goals, take the time to review them and map them to your values, identifying any areas where the goal or actions required to achieve it may conflict with your values.
#3 Having a negatively charged goal
Does your goal head you towards something you want or away from something you don’t want?
E.g. I don’t want to be poor vs. I’d like to be wealthy
Your unconscious mind will always find the simplest route to an end goal.
If you want to make more money in your business because you don’t want to work in your current job, you’re more likely to get fired than increase you business profits.
Frame all of your goals as ones that attract you towards them. Being mindful of point 1 and 2
#4 Harbouring money blocks
Often our goals have a financial component to them so unconscious beliefs about money and wealth can significantly impact our rate of success.
Some example beliefs might be:
- Wealthy people are greedy/mean/selfish/unlikable
- Making money is really hard/stressful work
- To make real money you have to work 24/7
- Easy money in = easy money out
- I’m not good at managing my money
- If you have money people either resent you or will expect you to share. If I don’t share, people will think that I’m selfish.
- The only way to make real money is by being dishonest/greedy/mean
Identify your money blocks and do some forgiveness work on yourself and others. This will be ongoing as new ones emerge or old ones revisit. Better yet, rewrite your money blocks into beliefs that support your success with Creatrix®.
#5 Letting your cycle create a shame spiral
Pretty much every function of our body is determined by hormones. Women and non-binary people with uteruses are especially susceptible to these once they reach puberty. Whilst menopause and various forms of contraception can stop the obvious signs like bleeding, they do not stop the cycle, nor the accompanying shifts in mood.
We feel inspired and energised during the “Spring” phase of our cycle, just after our bleed if we have one. We can often subconsciously start new goals and habits in this phase and so we feel like we’re making incredible progress. A few days later, depending on the individual, we shift into “Summer” still a productive time and one that leaves us feeling loved up and connected.
At this stage we’re feeling good and like we’re on track but then it happens… our hormones start to plunge and our energy levels drop. As a result, minor problems start to irritate us more than they should, our inclination to ditch that one session, eat that one thing, or leave early, becomes stronger, and this is where our new habit can slip. This is the “autumn” phase. Think in terms of how as the weather gets colder and darker earlier we pull back. Well it’s like that only within ourselves. By the time our hormones bottom out and we hit “winter”, we’re virtually hibernating like an grumpy bear and if someone brings up how we’re going on our goals we might just eat them.
Tune in to your natural mood cycle. Track it using an app or paper calendar and pen. Take note of changes in your body, energy levels, and mood, this is especially important if you don’t have an obvious bleed to set your observations to.
You’re 4 phases will determine your energy levels, thought capacity, judgement and risk taking, and interpersonal skills. Whilst this topic is a whole book’s worth in itself, a rudimentary understanding will help you plan your activities in alignment with your cycle. By harnessing the natural strengths of each phase of your cycle, you’ll maintain momentum, avoid burn out and take the megaphone from your unhelpful inner critic.
For example if I was having a rough week at the gym, eating a little less mindfully and easing back in my activity, I used to be pretty harsh on myself. I found it much easier to be forgiving of what I was doing once I understood that my late autumn/winter phase needed me to ease off a bit. I didn’t chastise myself for being lazy and instead felt more in flow with the knowledge that “Spring” was just around the corner.
#6 being unrealistic
You’ve probably seen SMART goals everywhere. If not, it stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic, and timebound. One of the biggest mistakes we can make when setting goals is that the target itself or what is involved in achieving it is completely unrealistic.
“People tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and to underestimate what can be done in five or ten years.”
Be willing to adjust the timeframe for your goal as you get more information rather that being disheartened by it.
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”―
In my Goal Getting Formula for Heart-centered Women online program, one of the key elements is the “Unfold” process. You must be willing to make adjustments to your approach, understanding and timing, as you work your way towards your goals.
You also need to take away the uncontrollable factors, including being third party dependent.
Crunch numbers, track your data and use them to make projections. Whilst miraculous growth isn’t unheard of, don’t set yourself up for failure. You also want to build sustainability into your success. I personally would rather slightly slower growth or improvements that I can bank on every month than growth that requires me to burn myself out to achieve it.
- Slower weight loss by a complete lifestyle change vs crash diet
- Consistent client intake vs overwhelming influx
- cutting back of day job hours to transition into your business vs quitting on a whim and hanging everything on instant success
Run different scenarios- products and services, pricings, hours required, effort required, equipment or support required, possible techniques or approaches etc. and settle on something that stretches you but isn’t fanciful.
Minimise reliance on third parties by working the numbers. If you need to sell 20 units to reach your financial goal then you will need to aim between 80-200 potential sales, which assumes anything between a 10-30% strike rate.
#7 all plan, no action
Just because you write down a goal and all of the steps you’ll need to take. Nothing changes until you take action.
I used to make this mistake all the time. I would dedicate myself to mapping out my approach, perfecting my strategy for what I was GOING to do. But it was just another form of procrastination. Whilst I’m absolutely for creating a solid plan, and mapping your approach, there comes a day when you need to implement it.
Set a start date in your plan so that you have to take action, even if it’s messy and you’re “not ready”.
Set yourself daily targets and processes that feed in to your bigger goal and find a way to make yourself accountable including tracking.
Creatrix® limiting beliefs that are causing you to procrastinate.
Use ritual and other mindset techniques to keep you grounded and aligned.
Where possible have a coach or trusted friend to keep you accountable.
Are there any of the 7 self sabotaging goal setting behaviours that you catch yourself doing?
If this was helpful and you’d like more support in reaching your goals, book a free consultation with me to identify what limiting beliefs are holding you back and whether Creatrix® or my online course: The Goal Getting Formula for Heart-centered Women could suit your needs.