One of the well-established pillars of the success community is the obsession with goals (and not the kind you see on the pitch). We’ve written a piece on how to set, and reach your goals here, but today we’re going to look at how goals can actually make you less successful.
It almost feels like you’re stomping on hallowed soil when you suggest that goals sometimes pull people away from what they want to achieve, but we’re going to anger the success gods for you today.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how goals can ruin you, and how to avoid that from happening.
You lack balance
When I first started on my path to financial freedom, I did what most of us do and set some goals. I set fantastic goals (even if I do say so myself) that were focused, had a time limit, were measurable, and damn straight I was going to hit them!
As the year went by I hit every single goal I had set for myself, often much faster than I thought I would. The trouble was each time I’d celebrate the completion of a goal fewer people would want to celebrate with me.
In order to be successful, there are many sacrifices that you’ll need to make. You’ll need to sacrifice security, you’ll need to sacrifice creature comforts, you’ll need to sacrifice a lot of time. Unfortunately, I sacrificed too much time.
I was so focused on my goals I would go to work events three nights out of five, so my girlfriend at the time would get annoyed at me. Whenever I hung out with my friends ,I only talked about my goals and asked them why they didn’t have any. It got to the point where all I talked about was how to be successful, and what others could do to become successful.
In short, I had turned into a prick.
Your goals are important but it’s important to have balance in your life. Sometimes all you need to talk about with your friends is the weather and argue over which Star Wars film is the best (I don’t care what you say, it’s Episode IV).
Your goals are a stepping stone to what you truly want; happiness.
Don’t forget that.
You get hung up when you don’t achieve them
One of the worst feelings in the world is when you let someone down, it’s even worse when you let yourself down. This is exactly what happens when you don’t reach a goal set for yourself. You sink into a slump, you’ve failed, you can’t do it, and think “what’s the point?”
One of the beautiful things about goals is that they’re yours. Literally no one else cares about your goals (except your Mum). If you don’t reach your goals the world will continue turning, your friends will still spend the majority of their time dealing with their own shit, and you will set new goals.
The insane thing is that we think we’ve failed ourselves, but we haven’t.
During the time you were trying to reach that goal you accomplished so much and did things you didn’t think you could do. It’s crazy to think that you’re somehow worth less because you didn’t do something that, by its very nature, is hard to do.
I repeat, they’re your goals. Imagine if your goal was to save £3,000 in four months and only saved £1,500. You can just change the goal! You now know you can save £1,500 in four months. You’ve got a new benchmark, a new personal best, a high score to beat.
The more goals you “fail” the more you’ll learn about your capabilities. If you can keep going even after you’ve “failed” a goal, you’ll learn the thing that separates the good from the great; grit.
Goals can skew your perception
One of the truly terrifying things about being super goal orientated is that you lose the ability to go with the flow. You try and control all the things around you so it all feeds into hitting your target. And when you inevitably fail to do so, it can be super frustrating.
A lot of the strategy books I read talk about being like “water,” or to adapt yourself to a situation. When you’re focused on a goal it can feel like you’re going against the current, most often because you are.
An example of this was when I was selling tickets for New Year’s Eve parties in Cairns, and my friend asked me if I wanted to go eat dinner with her and her friends. Now my goal was to sell 100 tickets in 30 days so I could surprise my then-girlfriend with a trip to Indonesia, so I told my friend that I couldn’t go to dinner and stayed walking the streets trying to hit my goal.
Now which would be easier; selling tickets to a group of people who already like me and are relaxed OR approaching strangers in the evening and selling to them? I was too focused on my goal that I missed this great opportunity and had to get a third job to afford the flights to Indonesia.
Take a step back
You guys are pretty smart and you probably already know what I’m going to say. The most important thing about goals is to keep them in perspective. Think about what you’re actually trying to achieve and focus on that.
Here’s how to escape from the tyranny of goals:
- Have a balance: You’re not a goal machine, take a step back and remember that you’re a human being
- Failure is good: If you “fail” you’ve learned your current limit and can now set a more realistic goal, using all you’ve learned already to kick start it
- Look at what you’re actually trying to do: Think about all the ways you can reach your goal, learn to adapt to different situations
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