A few years ago I got super swept up into the wide-world of goal setting. It all started when I started the blog. I paid for trainings that continually told me to set goals to grow my blow. While I do love this concept and see where the benefits lie, I also found goal setting to be a bottomless pit of despair. That might sound dramatic, but that’s pretty much what it felt like. As I quietly snuck out of the goal-setting culture I began to find that there were others like me and that this whole goal-setting thing can actually lead to so major setbacks. If you’ve been struggling with setting and sticking to your goals, here are some reasons why it might not be working for you.
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Goal journals are pretty straight forward. They are journals where you take the time to write your goals.
These are all great things, for sure, and setting goals can be so beneficial to helping you achieve great things in life. Where the problem comes into play is that we don’t always understand what goals will truly bring us joy and fulfillment.
On top of that, having goals can create a lot of additional pressure, may up your stress levels and leave you with a sense of shame if you don’t happen to accomplish all of your goals.
Remember when you were a kid and you wanted ice cream for breakfast. What did you want? That total joy of having something unexpected. Sugary goodness in place of what might normally have been a healthy meal.
However, if you accomplished this goal and always ate ice cream for breakfast, chance are you would have started to experience some negative side effects. Mood swings, health struggles and maybe some rotting teeth.
Aren’t you so glad someone knew ice cream for breakfast was not a good option? (Thanks, mom.)
This same concept still comes into play in our adult lives. A lot of times we think we know what we want/need to be happy or achieve success.
Say you write down that you want to write a book. Fair enough. That’s a great goal.
But the first thing to do is ask yourself, “why?” What feeling are you hoping to accomplish from this goal? Do you just have a passion for writing? Is there a story you feel will change the world? Have you just always dreamed of being a writer so it’s something you want to do so you can say you did something important?
A lot of times we don’t understand that the feelings we are seeking are something that are within our reach right now rather than a distant place in the future.
If we are sticking with the dream of writing a book because you have a story you believe will change the world, is it fair to say that you could start telling that story right now?
If what you are truly seeking is to change the world with a story, you may not need a book to do this.
Changing your mindset to start looking for ways to make your far-off goals become more attainable right now is a great place to start. I shared my strategy for this when I talked about how I got tired of waiting for full-time RV life to be a reality for our family.
Before you jump into a dream or goal, ask yourself if you are capable of living some part of it right now.
I have read books that I love that encourage positive mindsets which is great. However, certain ones like You Are a Badass at Making Money didn’t serve me well when she talked about making big, insane goals like making $20,000 in a week. (This may not have been the exact amount — but, it was a lot.)
In a moment of total hyped-up-ness, I went ahead and started setting big, drastic money goals. And yes, I still showed up with action behind them, but found myself falling into a panic mode over the too big, too scary numbers.
Setting goals like this set you back, even more, when they go hand in hand with limiting beliefs around money. Taking the time to knock-out limiting money beliefs is a great first step when it comes to setting big, financial goals, but it definitely takes time and intention.
Then what happens when you set a goal (timeline or not) and you don’t see it working out? What happens when you flat-out fail at a goal?
Chances are you might fall into that give up forever mindset. This happens a lot every New Years when people get super hyped to maintain their gym or weight loss goals and then give up when things get hard or the number on the scale goes up.
I am not saying that goal setting doesn’t work for some or that it doesn’t work at all, it’s just that I think there are more things to consider beyond what we are often told.
Over the last 4 years of failing at goal setting, I’ve decided to compile some more simple, practical goal setting strategies that even Warren Buffet would approve of.
Here are some practical ways I have personally found to be beneficial in setting realistic goals that don’t totally freak me out or push me into quitting.
Instead of big, far off goals that feel almost impossible, start with small, tangible goals that you can work toward today. Goals that you can’t fail at (unless you absolutely do nothing).
Setting small, goals that steer your toward better things can be a great way to take the pressure off big goals.
Usually, when we dream of having or achieving something it’s because there is an emotion behind it that we crave. What emotion is it that you are seeking and what are some simple things you could do today to help you feel that emotion?
Success – Show up at your current job and don’t go on social media at all!
Health – Ditch one unhealthy food item
Freedom – Give yourself one day of the week where you don’t have any obligations
One type of goal setting that is commonly overlooked is the type of goals that allow us to serve others. In fact, one common things that most people miss in their lives is the understanding that showing up to serve the world as a whole fulfills our lives in a far bigger way than we could ever imagine.
It’s just like when we started tithing during debt payoff and found debt payoff became easier.
Another important thing to remember is to allow your dreams to shift. There are some dreams in my life that have definitely come true (and they didn’t look exactly like I imagined).
The love of my life – Bald, broke and raising a kid on his own — these things definitely weren’t on my list but every important-to-me quality in a spouse was checked off!
Full-time travel – Traveling in a minivan with 2 kids a husband and 2 dogs. Not exactly ideal, but it gave me the freedom, the time outdoors, and the hands-on learning experiences for my kids that I had always craved.
Being a writer – Running a little blog in a small corner of the internet. I’m not writing bestsellers (yet), but I am definitely letting my creative juices flow! Learn how to start an online biz.
How has goal setting worked for you? Is there something that you have found to be helpful or successful? Drop your best advice in the comments so we can all learn from your genius.