9 Things That Don’t Work in Goal Setting (and 9 That Do!)


From my days as a personal trainer to where I am now, I have seen it all with goal setting! I’ve seen people’s lives transform in profound ways and I’ve also seen people chasing their tails–not making progress, lacking motivation, and eventually giving up.

Photos by Gina with my good friends Brooke and Bailey… and a first peek at the 2018 PowerSheets! 🙂

Over the last 15 years, I have led the Making Things Happen Conference 52 times, witnessed thousands of PowerSheets journeys, and studied how people make their goals happen. Traditional goal setting does not work for me, and it turns out, it doesn’t work for a whole lot of other people too.

Here are 9 solid truths about what doesn’t work in goal setting (surefire ways to chase your tail!)–and what does work.

1. How to chase your tail: Look at other people’s goals and progress to define your own.
How to make progress: Uncover your own unique goals and path.

2. How to chase your tail: Believe in quick fixes.
How to make progress: Embrace little by little progress.

3. How to chase your tail: Wait for perfection before you dig in.
How to make progress: Get your hands dirty and take action.

4. How to chase your tail: Ignore what’s not working.
How to make progress: Examine where you are in order to leap to what’s next.

5. How to chase your tail: Go through the motions, doing the same things you’ve always done.
How to make progress: Create a long-term vision and get after it.

6. How to chase your tail: Wander aimlessly, not setting goals at all.
How to make progress: Set out on a purposeful path by uncovering cultivated goals.

7. How to chase your tail: Place all of your value in the finish line.
How to make progress: Find joy in the journey.

8. How to chase your tail: When you don’t make perfect progress, abandon ship.
How to make progress: Embrace and celebrate imperfect progress.

9. How to chase your tail: Do it alone.
How to make progress: Be in community, sharing your goals and encouraging others along the way.

Have you ever chased your tail in any of these ways? (I have!)

There is good news.

The makes-me-want-to-do-a-praise-dance good news is that it’s not too late for some major change. I have seen this countless times. You can start fresh, falling down seven times and getting up eight. Your next step can be in the right direction, and your little-by-little steps forward will add up. I’m excited for you!

More good news: I have so much in store here on the blog in the days and weeks ahead to help all of us uncover and make progress on cultivated goals. We’re releasing the 2018 PowerSheets on October 25th and I have my best tips and grace-fueled goal setting advice coming your way along with them.

Your turn! Which of the things that don’t work  (and the things that do work) stood out to you the most? I’d love to hear!

P.S. We are hiring an Art Director, and I would be so grateful for your help spreading the word. We can’t wait to share an office with our new team member, Lord willing, very soon!

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  1. Kady on at

    It’s my favorite time of the year… getting prepped for the year ahead! My goals have changed so much this last year by really following your truths and becoming more refined in what matters. Thank you for your guidance! I hope we can have coffee someday 😉

    • Lara on at

      I’m so happy to hear you’ve been encouraged, Kady!

  2. Sarah on at

    “8. How to chase your tail: When you don’t make perfect progress, abandon ship.
    How to make progress: Embrace and celebrate imperfect progress.”

    ^^ That’s exactly me!! It’s crazy how easy it is to get discouraged. Growing up people called me a perfectionist and I didn’t believe them because I didn’t think I was good enough to be one. It wasn’t until a therapist said it that I was like, oh. And I started working on it. Abandoning ship was my total MO. Working on changing it with God and grace 🙂

    • Lara on at

      Such great insight! And yes, indeed – God and His grace change everything!

  3. #3 is my favorite and speaks to me the most. I am notorious at starting something with the plan of it being perfect and when it isn’t I stop! Here’s to getting my feet dirty one step at a time! Thank you Lara!!!

    • Lara on at

      I’m so glad this encouraged you, Lauren! Yes, here’s to finishing strong!

  4. Amanda on at

    I wish that I had the money to buy these powersheets!! I am in LOVE with this, and it would be so beneficial to me!

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