Generally, I am a fan of goal setting. I know the benefits of consistently and methodically working towards your goals, and of re-evaluating and resetting those goals, all with your bigger life vision in mind. In fact, I wrote an entire chapter about goal setting in my book, Harmony from the Inside Out. Goal setting provides a focus and clarity that can be extremely positive in energizing and motivating oneself or a group to action and to move forward in a direction congruent with that goal. Goal setting can also be dangerous and having a singular focus on achieving ones goals can actually hinder ones ability to achieve harmony in ones life.
Which of the following 5 killer myths about goals are you buying into?
5 Killer Myths about Goals
Myth # 1 Success = Achievement of your goal
The direct linking of success with the achievement of a goal is an all too common mindset. It's a mindset in which you believe that only when you reach a goal will you be successful. (and interestingly, my fabulous high-achieving clients generally feel that a goal reached only means that there is another bigger goal that needs to be set for real success!)
When you adopt the mindset that the actual achievement of a goal is the only part that is important, you effectively negate all of the successes and learning you have had enroute to your goal. This sets you up for a lot of heartache and a lot of missed opportunities to experience joy.
Achieving a goal is a finite moment in time. The real living is in the journey. Success lies in being fully who you already are. Do you want to define yourself by one external moment? If you have the mindset that nothing is worthwhile until you reach a goal then what is day-to-day living really all about?
1/ Think about a recent goal that you set for yourself, or a group you are in, that you either achieved, or did not reach. What do you remember about the journey? What might have been different had you focused on the journey?
Myth # 2 You must keep your eyes focused solely on your goal at all times
If you approach your journey with blinders on, like a racehorse, and never focus on anything except the goal, you will miss all of the stuff on the periphery that gives your life its colour, its variety and its passion. If you are constantly looking forward to a yet-unattained goal, you will miss the wealth and value of the present. Revisit (or create one if you haven't yet done so) your biggest vision for yourself and your life. Keep that vision in mind and think of a goal as simply being part of that bigger picture vision.
1/ What do you miss by keeping blinders on?
2/ What does your big picture vision look like? Let your mind go, dream, and paint that picture of your future possibilities. Understand that your goal is but one part of that big picture.
Myth # 3 You have failed if you are not progressing toward your goal
I am making the assumption that the goal you have set is one that you are passionate about and is one that speaks to your heart, and your soul. (if you have set a goal without considering "why" you want to achieve that goal, then please go back and reflect and make sure that your "why" is compelling for you.)
If you find yourself not progressing toward your truly compelling goal, it is a wonderful learning opportunity. Not progressing toward something you passionately desire could be a wakeup call to ask yourself - Is this what I really want? Do I really care?
Or, is it possible that "this" is enough? Right here, right now? What might happen if you relaxed into this being enough? Louise Hay said, "The point of power is in the present moment." Remember that this moment, this one right now, may just be the most important one.
Sometimes not progressing in a linear fashion towards a goal is a sign that it may be time to revisit the goal and revise it. Perhaps there is new information, or new ideas that would be worthwhile exploring. And although it seems counter-intuitive, sometimes the detours or seemingly backwards sliding can be our biggest opportunity.
1/ Revisit your goal and be certain you have a compelling "why" that is driving your desire to achieve that goal.
2/ If you find that you are not progressing toward your goal, take a step back and reevaluate the goal. Find the opportunity in your static moments.
Myth # 4 Your self-worth is dependant on achievement of your goal
Famous world-class hurdler, Perdita Felicien, offered a compelling perspective after falling in the finals of an Olympic hurdling event and therefore wiping herself out of the competition that she had been favored to win. "I have learned not to define myself by one event, no matter how big. My self-worth is not dependent on an even that lasts less than 13 seconds. Hurdling is what I do, it is not what defines me." Perdita gave us a terrific reminder - we are who we are, not what we achieve.
You can't control exterior circumstances, only interior ones. If you base your worth on external circumstances or results, you are giving up control of your life.
1/ What in you inspired you to to create and begin working toward your goal?
2/ Consider the concept of basing your self-worth on your signature brilliant qualities rather than your accomplishments. What possibilities opens up for you?
Myth # 5 Missing your goal is a negative thing
As Perdita Felicien said after she messed up her Olympic chances for a gold medal, "I know, in this challenging time, I will emerge better (for having struggled) and thrive once again."
Even though missing a goal may be challenging, it is not the end of the world. It is, however, an opportunity for growth, reflection, and redefinition of what is important.
It is key to heed the lessons of the above 4 myths to put your goal in its proper perspective. It is also important to have a plan for what happens if you miss a goal. Get clear about your process. Allow time to properly grieve, or feel disappointed if you miss your goal. If you are working in a group, allow for a discussion to honestly air the differing feelings in the group. Look to the good, and what you will build on. And no matter what the outcome, take time to remember and celebrate your journey. Because the journey is really what is all about.
1/ How will you celebrate your journey?
2/ What did you learn?
3/ What is most important going forward?