When we think of setting goals we often think about a person who is striving for success. Goals are often viewed as tool used by successful people who know what they want and where they want to go. In this article I wanted to remove that stigma and instead look at goals in a bit of a different light.
Goals can be a very useful thing as setting up where we want to go and what we want to achieve is certainly something that can lead us to realize what decisions to make now, in this moment. But where I find goals become overcomplicated is when we begin to add emotional attachment to them, especially when it comes to whether or not we achieve them.
When I was working in finance I was always taught to set some goals and strive for them. While this seems very innocent to begin with, it was easy to see how one can suddenly put a great deal of importance on goals and become emotionally driven with either failure or success. Suddenly life and what is done is all about achieving the goal and the initial intention of simply setting a path now becomes an obsession that is driven by our ego. In my opinion, I feel that this can be a rocky road and ultimately there is a lighter way to approach goals.
Value of Goal Setting
It’s no secret that without setting out some guidelines of what we would like to do or where we’d like to end up in certain cases, we can easily get stuck in a repetitive rut or miss out on various steps that can lead us to what we are working towards. This can apply to planning to go on a trip, creating a timeline for when we’d like to finish a project or get a new job or even achieve a desired state of health. Personally, having various things going on in my life and working with multiple people at a time, it has been very useful to set up some guidelines and plans as to where I’d like things to be in a certain period of time. Along the way I’ve learned a great deal about moving through each step and in the end huge things were achieved in short periods of time simply because me and whomever I was working with were assessing what we wanted to do and setting up some goals. Like I witnessed in my distant past, the issue that can come with goals is that we can quickly become down on ourselves, get off track, not live in the moment or even become obsessed with our goals should we put too much attachment to the outcome. So how do we go about this without getting attached and letting the ego take over?
A Lighter Side To Goal Setting
1. When setting a goal, realize what the goal truly is: simply a fluid plan to get you to where you want to be in a given period of time.
2. Your goals and what you do/accomplish do not define who you are. It’s easy to talk about our goals as if they are who we are and we often define ourselves by what we are doing or have done. This is where we bring ego in very quickly and start identifying with steps and outcomes. Things can become quite tricky should we let ourselves define ourselves by our goals and what we do.
3. Moving through various steps within a goal does not mean everything needs to stay exactly as it was initially planned. Things change, our goals can change, our feelings can change. Be open to these adjustments and allow things to evolve as they need to. Again this comes down to not being too attached with what we initially set out.
4. Don’t allow the goal to make you miss out on other areas of life. When you have a goal, keep balance in mind. Allow yourself to work on each step as it is needed and remember that other things are important in your life also.
5. Don’t allow the goal to pull you out of the moment. When you know you are working towards something, understand what must be done in each moment and don’t focus so much on simply rushing to the end goal or what the end goal might look like. This can bring us right out of the moment and we can miss out on everything that is happening now.
6. Let go of the idea that our goals and accomplishments define success. Success is a subjective thing and no matter what situation we create through our actions, we are successfully creating that situation -as ultimately it is what we need to experience. You can explore more about success here.
Ultimately I feel that if we can overcome the lure of #2, the other points become much easier to deal with. When we allow the stories we tell others, the stories we tell ourselves and ultimately our actions define who we are, we quickly get lost in what goals represent to the ego. Their original meaning and intention gets lost in the ego’s desire for identity and success. After all, what is success really? How can something so subjective become so overpowering in our lives?
Next time you are looking to set a goal or if you are in the midst of a goal-oriented journey, try to look at the lighter side and kick the old beliefs surrounding goal setting aside.