Are You Setting Goals For The Wrong Reasons?
I am a self-confessed sucker for setting goals. I enjoy the anticipation of achieving, I enjoy setting out a plan, and I enjoy imagining the endpoint. It literally encompasses three of my favourite things - achievement, organisation and daydreaming about an imaginary future. However, all too often I have travelled down the road of a particular goal, only to get halfway, or even a quarter of the way down the track, and feel completely unmotivated. The result is often that I end up quitting. And then I tell myself I am lazy, rubbish and a failure. It wasn't until a significant number of unfulfilled goals had gone by that I started to consider that the problem wasn't me. It was the nature of the goals I was setting. If this resonates with you, there's a chance you're also setting goals for the wrong reason too. Goal setting is such a buzz-phrase nowadays. We are told that to set and achieve goals means success, money and prestige. There is little conversation around the types of goals we're setting, and why we're setting them. Ultimately, setting goals for the wrong reasons doesn't get you anywhere you want to be, and can leave you in a place that doesn't work for you, potentially with a lot of wasted time and money spent. I have news for you, and I want you to read this carefully: you do not have to set goals. Setting goals and achieving them does not make you a more worthwhile person, and it doesn't necessarily make you better, happier or richer than you were before. There - you are off the hook.
With that in mind, setting and achieving goals take a lot of effort and perseverance, so you need only put yourself through this if it's something meaningful for you. So have a look at this list of key indicators that you are setting the wrong goals for you: 1. Your goal originated from fear, not excitement A common pitfall to setting the wrong goals is our motivation behind doing so. For example, let's say your best friend got a promotion at work. This made you compare yourself to your friend - 'they are moving up in the world, and I'm not. I've got to do something about this.' So you set your own work-related goal in response.
This is a classic example of setting a goal out of fear. Often, this fear is a comparison of yourself with a) your peers, and b) what you think you 'should' be doing. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that this goal isn't right for you - it might be exactly what you want. But the negative connotations that come with fear will impact your likelihood of sticking with, and achieving that goal. Many people advocate fear as a key motivator of goal-setting - I don't. Because fear is an extrinsic motivator - something outside of ourselves forcing us to do something. A more effective and long-lasting type of motivation is intrinsic - a motivation coming from deep within us, that conveys a natural curiosity and satisfaction with the task at hand. Your motivation to run towards something that excites you is much stronger than away from something that scares you. So choose goals that convey an internal interest, curiosity and satisfaction. Notice the catalyst that evoked your wanting to set a goal. Did something happen in your life that caused an uncomfortable reaction in you? Or are you motivated to set a goal because of a positive, excitable reaction? 2. You think of the work it will take and it doesn't excite you As I mentioned before, you don't have to set goals if you don't want to. And most of the process of achieving a goal lies in exactly that - the process. The journey. So if you are setting goals where you hate every minute of it and can't wait until you get to the end, that's a strong indication that this goal is not working for you. We often have this refrain running through our heads - 'when I achieve X - then I'll be happy'. We think that happiness needs to be put on hold until we reach the top of the mountain. Often, we find that when we get there, we think 'is this it?' And we often quickly move on to the next hurdle to overcome. By approaching goals in this way, we are ultimately missing out on life, as 99% of achieving a goal is the process of getting there. Goals are above all supposed to be enjoyable. So if you find yourself not really enjoying, or even dreading, the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, it is most definitely not worth it! The end goal is not really the point of setting goals - if you enjoyed what you learnt and what you did on the way there, it doesn't even matter if the goal wasn't achieved in the end. 3. You always need a goal on the go If you're anything like me, you may be addicted to setting goals. This might be due to fear of not being busy, or chronic comparison with others. If you find it hard to step back, slow down, and smell the roses, there's a chance you're just setting goals for the sake of it. I hear you. And the thing is, I don't blame you either. We've been fed this line for years and years that setting goals and achieving is the golden temple of Life. However, I encourage you to try stripping back the goal setting for a bit and seeing how that feels (if that feels impossible, you can set yourself a goal to set less goals!) Try taking up a hobby just for the sake of learning something new. Try getting bored. Try being rubbish at something. It's surprising how much you learn about what you actually want to achieve in the process of doing less. I want to leave you with a few nuggets of wisdom if you, like me, often set goals for the wrong reasons: - Goal setting does not make you a better person - An important part of life is enjoying, sitting back and reflection - You are perfect just as you are - Being bored is a necessary step to understanding what you want What goals have you set before that were, in hindsight, not right for you? C x