Why do we create goals?
With goals you can set a course of action and make better decisions about the opportunities – and distractions - that come your way each day. Without goals, you are more likely to be subject to the whims and pressures of both external and internal feelings in the moment.
At their best, the articulation of goals helps you in four significant ways.
- They help you give voice and direction to your desires and dreams.
- They guide the way to future action.
- They help you measure the effectiveness of your actions against your results.
- They give you a point of reflection when things don’t go as you planned.
Goals can backfire on you too. If they are born in a response to something you want to avoid they are not likely to beas satisfying when you reach them as you hoped they'd be. They may offer some reprieve from anxiety, but that wolf may continue to lurk on the other side of that emotional door.
Goals can turn into yard sticks you beat yourself over the head with when not reached as anticipated. Once set you may stay too long with a project or commitment that simply no longer serves you. This can make it difficult to act spontaneously when doing so would yield a better result or more interesting opportunity.
The best goals are the ones that delight you. They delight you because achieving them sends waves of happiness that reach to the depths of your being. Not only that, you’d have fun taking the actions along the way. They inspire you enough that you literally have the energy to see them through. On the other hand, when action is required on goals that don’t light you up, they will soon lose their luster and you your motivation.
How do you know which is which? Try a simple litmus test. When you review your goals pay attention to changes in your energy. You’ll notice that your response to some is flat, some create undue anxiety, and some delight you.
“I just finished reading something to this effect pertaining to motivation. I agree! I am most certainly motivated by things that delight me... It feels more like play than work!” Lisa, Human Resources Consultant
Even "good" goals can change as you move through life. We are not stagnant beings, we are evolving. What you thought you wanted for a lifetime can change. What's more, you may be someone who, once a goal is reached, is done and ready to move on. Barbara Sher, author of one of my favorite books, Refuse to Choose, discovered that some scanners (1) get more joy from exploring something than completing it.
Goals are simply goals. They do serve a purpose, they do give form and frame to actions in life. But they are not prison sentences. YOU are not a failure if you don’t achieve something you set out to do, or change your direction along the way. In either case, it may simply mean you need to make adjustments.
(1) Scanner, briefly defined, excerpted from Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher: "Unlike those people who seem to find and be satisfied with one area of interest, you're genetically wired to be interested in many things...What you've assumed is a disability to be overcome by sheer will is actually an exceptional gift. You are the owner of a remarkable, multi-talented brain..."