Having goals is a good thing, right? It gives us something to aim for, a bit of direction and purpose. But bad goal setting can be more damaging than no having no goals at all.
The problem is, goal setting has become pretty complicated these days… before you can set a goal it seems you need to decide the goal of your goal. Confused? We’re not surprised. On the goal menu today we have specific goals, stretch goals, results goals, incremental goals, learning goals, mastery goals, performance goals, #couplegoals… is the words “goals” losing all meaning? Let’s refocus.
The problems with goals:-
1. Getting bogged down in one goal at the expense of living life
We’ve probably all either witnessed it or been guilty of it at times – one thing becomes the be-all and end-all of life as we know it. The goal of getting that job or nailing that trick becomes our nemesis. It. Will. Not. Defeat. You. Except it does, by reducing your life to a single elusive purpose and skipping off with your sanity.
2. Engaging in unhealthy or risk-taking behaviours to achieve goals
This is a common problem with weight loss and fitness goals, but can creep into play with any goal. Late nights at the office to get that promotion, under-eating or overtraining, acting out of character to win approval from someone influential, breaking rules and regulations that exist to keep you and others safe. These behaviours can often appear to offer short-term gains, but are the potential long-term sacrifices worth it?
3. Becoming frustrated or demotivated by a goal that actually isn’t within our control
If your goal is to get a specific job then there are several ways of doing that. One way is to make yourself the best candidate for the job. Another is to suck up to whoever does the hiring and firing and hope that nepotism wins the day. If you choose one of these strategies then someone else might choose the same strategy and do it better. Or, you might be the best candidate for the job and nepotism could rule. Ultimately, you can’t control the outcome. Which can be soul-destroying.
So… what’s the solution to these problems? Basically, diversity is key – have a range of goals. Break down your aims and make them achievable. The two questions you really need to be asking yourself when you’re goal setting are:-
1. Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Be open minded when you’re asking yourself this question. Think about what other goals might lead you in the same direction in a better way. Adjust your goals if needed. Give yourself a more manageable and achievable short-term aim that will set you on the right path. You haven’t failed at your original goal, you’re just being flexible about your journey to give yourself the best chance of long-term success and happiness.
2. Does success in this goal ultimately depend on something I can’t control?
If it does, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad goal to have. Just try to make sure it’s not the goal you’re most focused on, and certainly make sure it’s not your only goal. Give yourself the opportunity to be the master of your own success at least some of the time. If your goal is to get a particular job, make it your main aim to be an outstanding candidate for the job by improving yourself. If you end up getting the job as a result it’s a bonus. But if you don’t then you’ll be better prepared for the next time an opportunity comes about.
Always remember that success is in the eye of the beholder. Not smashing every single goal you set at your first attempt, or even your second, third or twentieth attempt, is NOT the same thing as never achieving anything worthwhile. Be kind to yourself, and celebrate every victory. Some days that will just be getting out of bed in the morning, and that’s ok!
For some interesting reads on goals, check out these articles:-