Confident Leader

Why goal setting doesn’t work


Goal setting doesn’t work! Yes, I said it! I know, it is very surprizing to hear it from me, someone who actually achieves her goals most of the time (and sometimes even surpasses them. So why would I say that goal setting doesn’t work? Because I’ve heard it times and times again “I’ve set goals, but it didn’t work”. So it must be true that goal setting doesn’t work. Or is it?  I looked deeper into it and I found out why goal setting doesn’t work. At least for some people… and what you can do about it. Here are the top three reasons goal setting doesn’t work:

1. Goals are fuzzy

Very often I hear people saying that their goal is to earn more money in the next financial year. How much is ‘more money’? For someone $50K might be more money, whilst for others $1M more is just good enough.

When goals are set so fuzzy, people are not going to know if they’ve actually reached it. Try instead the good old SMART goal setting. In case you don’t know it, this is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic and Time-bound goals. Basic but a bullet proof way of setting clear and achievable goals.

2. Goals are not backed by action

After the goal is set in a manner described above, corresponding actions need to be designed, which then when put into place will lead to achieving the goal. In other words, if I want to lose weight for instance, I need to start exercising regularly and have a healthy eating plan.

It sounds like common sense, right? Surprisingly though, this very ‘small’ detail of designing the specific actions and getting into motion towards achieving the goal is often forgotten and people just continue to do what they have done previously. In his book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, Marshall Goldsmith – one of the world’s top 10 Most-Influential Business Thinkers – describes that in order to achieve something you haven’t achieved before, such as a new goal, you need to do something you haven’t done before. This means that continuing to do what you have done before, won’t lead you to a new level in your business or career.

Therefore in order to achieve your goal, a solid new action plan needs to be designed and implemented.

3. No ownership

A friend of mine set up her own business and was very enthusiastic about it. A few months later, while asking her about how she was progressing in her new venture, she started to tell me about all the reasons why she didn’t achieve what she was set out to accomplish. She went on blaming everyone, from the government to her mother-in-law. What she missed in her story was what role she played in it.

Like her, there are many people who do not take any ownership of their goals and endeavours. Instead they prefer to focus on blaming others for their failures, rather than taking ownership and identifying what they could have done better or what they can improve for the future.

If it is always someone else’s fault, how can you ever influence the situation? As soon as you can see your involvement in the situation, even if the only role you played was to allow it to happen, then a powerful shift will happen where you will realise that you are the only one who controls your success.

Here is some food for thought: In 1979, Harvard’s MBA Program survey found that only 3% of their graduates had clear, written goals. Ten years later, they found out that this small group was earning ten times as much as the other 97%.

As we have just entered a new financial year in Australia, my challenge to you is to share your audacious goals with the world as a way to committing to achieving them. I am looking forward to hearing from you.



About Corina Lorenzi

Corina Lorenzi is a Business & Executive Coach and Founder of Elite Success Strategies and she is passionate about helping leaders create organisations for which employees love working and contributing. Her areas of specialisation are Leadership and Negotiation, as well as creating High Performance Teams.Corina is also an internationally published author with her contribution, alongside other thought-leaders, to the book Your Success.

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1 Comment



    March 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Slam dunkin like Shaquille O’Neal, if he wrote inofimatrve articles.

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