Why You Should Routinely Declutter Your Goals List

March 22, 2016 • Rehack Team


With constant pressure to succeed, it can be easy to get caught up in the pursuit of a goal and lose sight of its actual objective. When we continue to pursue something that no longer interests or benefits us, simply to avoid failure, the goal becomes a stumbling block to success, rather than a means to achieve it.

Do you experience frustration when you review your goals list?

If so, it may be time to re-evaluate your long-term to-do list and change, or even abandon, those that are no longer useful or constructive. It’s important to remember that despite common misconceptions, regrouping or quitting doesn’t automatically equate to failure.

In fact, there are times that giving up a goal may be one of the biggest — and bravest — challenges you face. Not sure if it’s time to declutter your to-dos? Here some tips to help you decide and get the most out of your updated list.

Signs You May Need to Re-Evaluate

Realizing which goals are outdated and need to be revised is one of the first steps in rerouting your path to success. If you identify with a number of these statements, it’s time to take a look at your to-do list to see where adjustments are needed:

  • You haven’t worked toward or made progress on your goals during the last three months.
  • The thought of achieving your goals no longer excites you.
  • Working toward your goals results in frustration, excessive stress, depression or anxiety.
  • Circumstances have changed and reaching your goals will no longer provide the benefits you’d previously anticipated.
  • Your gut tells you it’s time to cut down your goals list.

You may want to go through each item on your list individually to decide what needs to be done. While some goals may need to be changed or abandoned, others may still be valid and worth pursuing

Refocus Your Priorities

After you’ve decluttered your list, it’s time to look ahead and refocus your priorities. Try to gain a clear picture of the result you wish to achieve by asking yourself what you really want. Once you have a well-defined outcome in mind, you can begin to focus on accomplishing that goal.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all system to help you determine your priorities. Here are a few popular techniques you can use to find one that works for you:

  • David Allen’s Getting Things Done System. Getting Things Done is a fives stage workflow management system to help you determine priorities, reduce stress and make wise decisions.
  • Warren Buffet’s A and B List Strategy. This strategy takes your top 25 priorities which become list A, and narrows them down to your top five, which then becomes list B. Once you have list B, all things on list A are avoided until everything on list B is completed. 
  • The Eisenhower Decision Matrix. Author Stephen Covey created this matrix based on Eisenhower’s infamous decision principle. The matrix helps distinguish important versus urgent tasks, by dividing them into four quadrants, which are categorized by different combinations of the important/urgent labels.

Tips to Help You Set More Effective Goals

Now that you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to reassess and set your new goals. Below are a few things to help you improve your long term to-do list:

  • Remember that your list is a living document. Your life, your dreams and your situation are constantly changing, and your goals need to reflect those changes. Don’t get stuck trying to hang on to obsolete ambitions and objectives.
  • Define what success means to you and what it will take to achieve it. Then set measurable goals that are challenging, but realistic.
  • Focus on what you really want. Your instincts will always alert you when you aren’t following your path. Learn to listen to your body when it tells you you’ve gone off-course, and adjust accordingly.

Goals are not meant to define who you are. They’re merely a tool to help guide you through the uncertainties of life. And sometimes recognizing when your goals list needs to be decluttered, rearranged or abandoned is even more important to your overall success than actually setting goals in the first place.