Setting Goals Isn't For Everyone

Personal goals aren’t for everyone


We all set goals. But why is it that some of us accomplish our goals, while most of us fail miserably?

The answer might come in HOW we set our goals.

Often times, when we set a goal it is for something in the future and requires a mind shift, new habit to form, or other life altering circumstance. Some of the most common goals that we fail at are

  • Losing weight
  • Eating healthier
  • Paying off our personal debt
  • Saving for a big purchase
  • Spending more time with family
  • Etc…

The crux of the problem is we, as humans, are not designed to think about our goals daily, nor are we designed to be motivated by our goals. Allow me to explain.

Most people set goals with the WHAT in mind. The list above is a perfect example. Instead, we should be focusing on the HOW.

Setting goals isn’t for everyone

First off, I am not saying that you shouldn’t set goals.

Having a goal and working towards it, and then accomplishing it is a great way to develop personal skills and talents.

Instead, I am suggesting you consider WHY you want to accomplish the goal.

For instance, if your goal is to lose weight so you can become healthier, look better, and live longer, then you should break those down into smaller goals.

And instead of looking at the big picture or the end goal, start looking for checkpoints.

These smaller goals should be more time sensitive and involve a smaller portion of your goal.

We live in a society where everything moves fast.

Yet when we make goals we plan them out for months, or years. Is it safe to assume that when you create the goal you want to see results within the first 2 weeks?

More than likely this is true.

Instead of making lofty goals with 6 month deadlines, make a smaller, more manageable goal that you know will yield results after two weeks.

Going back to our example above. Consider the goal of losing weight.

Instead of saying I want to loose weight, tell yourself, I don’t want to gain any more weight for two weeks.

In the two weeks I am going to read about eating healthy, and put this knowledge to practice.

Stack your goals to keep your brain happy

In two weeks, when you get on the scale and see results, your goal has been met and you can create a new one.

This keeps your brain hungry and happy.

The science behind dopamine production in the brain is fascinating and powerful.

The more dopamine you can feed your brain by accomplishing mini-goals on the way to a much larger goal, the better chance you have of reaching the end of the road.

 

Major dopamine pathways. As part of the reward pathway, dopamine is manufactured in nerve cell bodies located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and is released in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. The motor functions of dopamine are linked to a separate pathway, with cell bodies in the substantia nigra that manufacture and release dopamine into the dorsal striatum.
Major dopamine pathways. As part of the reward pathway, dopamine is manufactured in nerve cell bodies located within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and is released in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. The motor functions of dopamine are linked to a separate pathway, with cell bodies in the substantia nigra that manufacture and release dopamine into the dorsal striatum.

Rethink how you set your personal growth goals

It’s far too easy to say you are going to accomplish something.

Ideas are easy, implementation is hard – Guy Kawasaki

Most of the time, when trying to set our goals we put the cart before the horse. We state the end goal without having any idea of how we are going to get there.

We are setting ourselves up for inevitable failure without a clear plan of attack. The most difficult part in the entire goal setting and goal reaching process is the management of the timeline.

Businesses pay good money to have a project manager keep things on pace. Billions of dollars are devoted to using technology to manage projects and processes.

Yet, when we are forced to manage ourselves, we suck at it.

Why? Because it’s hard.

Learning how to manage your goal checkpoints is incredibly important and a skill-set that many people fail to develop.

Wrapping it up with some action items

We all have goals. Setting goals is a healthy exercise in personal growth development. Yet, so many of us fail at reaching our goals.

To better improve our success rates we must:

  • Set smaller goals that are checkpoints
  • Realize that reaching small goals releases dopamine in our brains which makes us want to keep achieving our goal.
  • Realize that setting the goal is the easiest part, and that managing the timeline is the hardest.
  • We must understand that without a clear plan of attack, our goals are doomed

In closing, there is something to be said about giving yourself what it needs vs what it wants. Although difficult, it is worthwhile to ask your inner self why you really want to acheive a goal. On the outside your motives might make sense, but the more you peel back the rationale, the more likely the goal seems unimportant.

In order to achieve a superficial goal, like look better, you must first be happy with who you are.

Only when you achieve the deeper rooted goal can you start accomplishing the more superficial goals.

As a parting example, I wanted to wipe away some of my debt. I thought it was so I could have peace of mind and live stress free from credit card debt. I reached my goal after a year of saving and passing on a lot of social opportunities.

I didn’t feel any happier or this abstract concept of “peace of mind”.

I have since racked up more debt, usually on travel, and eating out, and have found that brings me more happiness and having the credit card is peace of mind that I can live life and be happy when a friend unexpectedly comes into town.

At the end of the day I was happy that I set out and accomplished my goal but after analyzing WHY I wanted to reach my goal, I realized that I didn’t fully understand my situation.


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