The internet contains a ton of articles about the importance of goals. The process seems as simple as setting a target and chase it with discipline. Boom, you'll achieve what you want.

But are things really that simple? What if you set the wrong goal for yourself? People often try chasing something without knowing the reason. When I started my first business venture, I did not know what my goal was. All I knew was I wanted to make a cartload of money and become famous.

I built software products hoping for wealth and fame. I assumed customers would buy whatever I threw at them. I cared little about the idea, and needless to say, the business failed.

Similarly, many people try chasing goals only to give up a few weeks later. Try observing the trend of new year resolutions. As per statistics, over 80% give up on their plan by the end of January itself. Only about 7-8% proceed to stick to their words until the end of the year.

So why do people fail to chase goals? Is it because it takes a lot of effort? Sure, that's one reason. But more often, people lack the motivation to achieve their target because they set the wrong goal.

The incorrect way of setting goals:

On the surface, you might assume that you set a goal that is true to your heart. But various other factors influence your thought process.

1. Ego

You want to cultivate an image where people consider you awesome. A typical example is people pursuing entrepreneurship to appear cool. They are not willing to put in the effort or the sacrifice necessary for the result. People expect a shortcut which brings them fame and money.

You may also chase a goal because you want to impress one specific person. Many men sign up for a gym membership to woo a lady they have a crush on. The day they find her dating another guy, the habit of working out goes out the window.

2. Pressure from society

Many of the goals you chase are determined by society. People buy cars and houses they cannot afford because everyone around them has one. They spend money buying things they don't want, with the money they don't have to impress the people they don't like.

People chase goals that aren't their own and spend decades paying EMIs and compromising on little things that matter to them. Such goals end up being a lifelong grind which leads to a life of regret and compromise.

3. Greed

As human beings, we want more and more. You believe you will achieve happiness when you reach a specific target. For example, let us assume that today your goal is a net worth of 1 million dollars and owning a Mercedes.

Once you achieve that goal, you will aim for 10 million dollars and a Ferrari. When you get there, you will chase 200 million and a private jet.

The quest for materialistic things is like a treadmill running on infinite electricity. It never stops.

4. Competition

Many of your goals are for the sole pleasure of beating an opponent. During my venture, I was keen on making our company more well known than a specific another entrepreneur. His business was related to ours, but we were not even direct competitors. Yet, I was keen on winning the battle.

People try to beat another person in various ways. You buy a new car because your neighbor purchased one. You want a promotion because your coworker got one. You want to buy a house because your relative has one.

The only pleasure that comes out of achieving such goals is the momentary satisfaction of winning. It does not induce happiness.

How should you set goals:

1. Choose goals you care about:

The goals that you must chase are the ones that you care about. When you achieve such goals, you feel genuinely elated. You must have a clear reason why you're pursuing the goal. If you want to target something because some other person did the same thing, you will not have enough steam to keep going.

If you do not know what your objective is, use these 3 questions to arrive at an answer.

2. You must enjoy the journey too:

If you seek a goal purely for the joy of reaching a destination, you may not always have enough motivation to get there. Most world-class athletes mention how much they enjoyed the practice sessions too. Their joy did not lie in the victory alone. Sure, the practice was tough and challenging, but they savored the experience in itself.

Setting a goal of making 500 million dollars seems exciting. But if you do not enjoy the path you choose to make that money, it's unlikely that you'll make it.

3. Ask why:

Every time you feel like pursing a goal, ask yourself, "Why?" If you care about the purpose enough, you will have an answer. If you do find your inner voice stammering for a reason, you're most likely chasing a goal because it appears appealing.

4. Have fewer goals:

If I asked you to list all your goals right now, how many would come up with? If you have too many goals, they aren't yours. You are chasing the targets due to your greed, ego, rivalry or the society. The more goals you have, the fewer you will achieve.

As human beings, only a few goals resonate with our heart. All the others are those which we are neither pleased to chase nor thrilled to achieve.

Set SMART goals:

You can dream as big as you like, but your plan to get there must be realistic. You can aim to become the wealthiest person in the world, but if you do not know how you will get there, your goal is pointless. Using the SMART Goal system(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound), will help you formulate a clear path to get to your dreams.

When you use such a system, you realize that becoming the wealthiest person in the world is too vague of a goal. You need more details like when, how, and why.


You might believe you lack the discipline to chase the goals you set. But chances are you set a goal you barely cared about in the first place. If you set the right goals, you will notice a different version of yourself. You will find the motivation you were missing, and procrastination will be out of the window.

To top it off, you won't even need to hunt for tips to make that happen. Your inner self will bring the best out of you.

Next time you find yourself struggling to reach a target, revisit the goal. Once you set it right, the rest will fall in place.

Author's Bio: 

Maxim Dsouza is a self improvement blogger who has over a decade of experience with startups. He has been a part of multiple failed start ups and learned the hard way.

On his blog Productive Club, he shares the lessons he has learned about productivity, time management, entrepreneurship, and cognitive biases.