I’m going to let you in on something that is a little out of the ordinary when it comes to advice on motivation and personal development. Goals are, in many respects, overrated.
Now before anyone gets upset and tells me how important goals are to success, let me give the disclaimer that I love goals and focus heavily on how to properly set and reach goals. I have a goal right now to finish this book by a deadline I’ve set for myself. I’m also about to give you some little known tricks to significantly increase the likelihood that you’ll reach your goals.
The reason why I say goals are “overrated” is not so much because there’s anything wrong with goals in themselves, but more something wrong with how some people view or approach goals. They put goals so high up on a pedestal that they think the goals are the end. They’re not.
There is no end, there’s only the constant process of growth and development. And if a person isn’t growing, they’re dying (regressing). Goals are therefore first and foremost a means of prompting one to take on new behaviors and habits or enhance the effectiveness of existing behaviors. Actually reaching a goal is secondary. Plus, reaching a goal like getting in great shape only to not stay in great shape because one hasn’t made fitness a lifestyle usually doesn’t seem all that appealing to most.
That being said, goals can also be essential at times for gaining clarity and direction for many people, myself included. So in a sense, goals can be both essential and overrated depending on the context.
In truth, goals are simply one tool you have for creating change, and some people can do just fine without them while others benefit from them greatly. Some people may be very good at reaching their goals only to not end up being happy when they get there.
For now, I’ll leave you with these tips on goals:
- Goals are a target to shoot for. It doesn’t matter if you don’t always hit a bulls eyes, it’s more about improving your aim over time.
- Write down your goals on paper. This improves neural connection in the brain. Make sure they’re specific and that you know when you’ve reached them.
- As best as you can, only share your goals with people that will support you and keep you accountable. Research shows that, contrary to popular belief, sharing goals may be detrimental depending on certain factors. There’s a power in keeping a secret.
- Make goals present tense by using language like “I am…” instead of “I want to be…” I also like using the phrase “I choose…” which creates a sense of power and confidence.
- Include the positive feelings you’ll experience such as happy, excited, grateful, confident, etc.
- Include the habits and behaviors you engage in with your goals rather than just the outcome. EX: “I am so happy I weigh XYZ pounds by choosing to make a vegetable juice for breakfast and exercising 30 minutes 3x a week” vs. simply “I choose to weigh XYZ pounds.”
- Use positive rather than negative language in writing your goals. For instance, instead of “I choose to not keep eating junk food,” write “I choose to eat healthier foods.”
- Use “process” language, especially at first. If “I choose to eat a healthy and nutritious diet” seems unlikely to be accomplished at first, try “I choose to eat even more healthy each day” which makes it more about daily improvements vs. having an ideal diet.