One of the biggest benefits of creating goals is that they force us to focus our time, attention, and energy on a specific objective, instead of scattering our focus and our resources among the broad range of possibilities vying for our attention. When we concentrate our efforts on a specific target, we’re more likely to accomplish our goals and less time.
That said, setting a goal that is too specific, while achievable, can lead to a goal setting mistake, by missing the true intention of our goal in the first place. We fall into this common trap by thinking too narrowly, and missing the bigger picture of what we’re really hoping to achieve. Unfortunately, this often leads, to wasted effort and frustration.
Setting a goal to lose 20 pounds for example, might be very valuable to a person who is otherwise healthy, but just carries a little bit of extra weight. For others, losing 20 pounds, while appealing, is misdirected effort, when the real goal is to achieve better health. When you look at the bigger picture, losing weight might not be the most effective goal. Perhaps quitting smoking would be more valuable. Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure or reversing heart disease might be better served by changes in diet or increased activity. Though losing weight might be a byproduct, it isn’t actually the true goal.
Another example of a too specific goal might be to increase the number of sales calls or project numbers, when the real goal is to advance our career, and a more valuable goal might be to attain an advanced certification or further our education to make us more valuable to an employer. Still another to specific goal might be to find the perfect mate, when the real goal is to be happier. Even if we find the perfect mate, we won’t necessarily be happier, because we have missed the true underlying need.