I’ve followed Deb’s writing about goal setting with great interest because I have the same problem with it: I have a love/hate relationship with goal setting!
Setting new goals is fun and you can get a great boost from it. Then there is also the sense of achievement when you actually reach your goal. I think my own problem with goals is a result of my perfectionism. If I don’t reach my goals in the allotted time frame, I will mentally whip myself, declare myself a failure and in the worst case, quit on my goal altogether.
There have been times in my life I’ve sworn I’ll give up all goals in my life, just to relieve pressure.
But that has never been a happy – or at least permanent – solution either. Life without any goals lacks structure. Sooner or later I’ve always come back to setting some goals for myself.
I think things can go wrong with goal setting in many ways.
You set unrealistic goals – like losing 66 lb (30kg) before summer, or equate your self-worth with your success, or don’t take into account the realities of your life.
I’ve may have mellowed a bit with age, because I’ve started thinking about goals with more flexibility. On one of my many Feldenkrais mp3 recordings the teacher talks about certain “poses” as directions for movement rather than as a fixed goal you have to force yourself to adopt.
I think that’s a better way to think about goals – that they give you a direction to work toward.
Besides I’ve noticed that in practice, when I’ve reached some important goal in my life, the timing has always been off – way off. For whatever reason, reaching the goal almost always took more time than I planned. It didn’t prevent me from eventually reaching the goal though.
Now my goal is to fit into my size 38 jeans but I have no idea when I’m going to reach it. I might be able to reach that goal in 12 months, but that may not be enough time. I also want to be able to do at least 10 military push ups some day.
Sometimes I get frustrated because of my lack of progress, but keep plodding forward anyway.
There is also another change I’ve made in my goal setting lately.
I try to focus on process goals more than the eventual outcomes. That means I track certain daily and weekly behaviors that I expect to contribute to ,my eventual weight loss, to decrease my stress or whatever. I actually have a weekly written register with which I follow (I adopted the idea from Darren Hardy’s book Compound Effect) my “focus” behaviors.
You can see I track 11 different behaviors every week. I don’t always reach the goals I’ve set for myself. I have good weeks and bad weeks.
For some reason tracking my behaviors causes me less stress than setting big fixed goals. It might work for you too.
Do you set goals for yourself? What happens if you don’t reach them?