Rethinking Goals Can Create Success

Leadership tip: the benefits are the goal

Have you ever made a goal, done something else instead, and felt like you were failing?

You’re not alone.

When we create goals, we always have an underlying reason for the goal – our deeper “why?”  But we don’t always (rarely?) sit down to think about it.  We don’t get clear on our bigger objective.

For example, we may make a goal to exercise three times a week, when our bigger objective is to reduce stress.

As we set out to work on our goal, we may intuitively make changes, sometimes changing the goal completely.  In doing so, we’re often instinctively adjusting to achieve our bigger objective.  We just don’t realize it.

When this happens, if we succeed at meeting our “why?” but fail at meeting our goal, we may not feel successful, even when we are.  And if we do it enough, we start to tell ourselves that goal-setting is bad, pointless, or a hindrance to our success.  In reality, we are achieving goals while missing out on really harnessing their power.      

Consider a person who sets a goal to go to the gym three times a week.  They make some attempts and then give up because trying to fit the gym in was causing too much stress.  A few weeks later, they downloaded an exercise app and started using it for 15 minutes every day.  If they focus on not meeting the gym goal, they may feel frustrated or guilty that they didn’t succeed.  These feelings may cloud the use of the app and life in general.  However, suppose they sat back and considered that their ultimate objective was to reduce stress.  They were hoping the gym routine would be the solution but quickly realized they needed a different approach.  If they looked at it this way, they’d feel differently, likely more motivated in life and their exercise attempts.   

Using goals can be tricky, it’s much more of an art than we often acknowledge. 

If you’re having a hard time sticking with a goal, look at the benefits of achieving that goal.  They are your real objective.  Consider writing them as a separate goal.  Then ask yourself if you are achieving them in some other way.  If you are, feel confident scrapping the original goal and focusing on your new plan.  You’re succeeding!  If you’re not achieving the benefits, look for other ways to achieve the things you really want and create success for yourself.