Why I Stopped Setting Goals - Smart Goal Setting

Why I Stopped Setting Goals 

Today I want to talk to you about setting goals. There’s a lot of stuff out there about the ‘importance of goal setting’ or tips and hacks to help you ‘smash those goals.’ But what I’ve found is that in actual fact, goals can hold you back.

Now, I know that’s not what is said out there. Most people online, all they talk about is goals and how they’re amazing, the importance of them, how to set them etc. But. If you really stop and examine the act of setting goals. What goals are, really – is exciting.

 

Getting Pumped

young man in red jumper with fists pumped in air, symbolising the excitement of goal setting

Generally, we set goals during a period of feeling low. After a bad week, month, or even a bad year…You say to yourself Right. Enough of this shite. These goals are going to be my turning point. In a year’s time, I’m going to be…There’s this pump of endorphins surging through you, you’re excited about the future and you go to bed feeling motivated.

But then you wake up into tomorrow. And those goals that you set, start to remind you of how far away you are from reaching them. Which can be pretty demotivating and demoralising, especially when your goals are big and lofty.

When you look at it this way, it really shows how setting goals can often do more harm than good in the long run.

 

Your Wants Wax and Wane 

Man with flour all over his face, one picture of him looking happy, and the other looking sad. A caricature, almost. Like a mime. How your goal setting changes with your mood.

The really interesting thing for me is: when we stop and examine those goals – they have a tendency to veer you off in another direction from your intended path. Towards something that actually isn’t what you truly want.

Think about it. When you’re feeling low, what you desire is often drastically different to what you want when you’re feeling up.

That’s what I want you to keep in mind.

 

Staying in the Now 

woman in bath with eyes closed, symbolising being mindful and present.

For me, how I changed that, has come from a completely different act. And that act is just being present. Focusing on today. Because today is all we have, really. The past is gone – we no longer have it. And the future is on its way, yes. But it’s not here yet.

If you’re setting goals for the future and waking up being reminded that you’re not where your goals are, you’re going to be so dissatisfied with today. And that’s where you live, every day. Today.

But – the goal setter says – don’t worry, sacrifice today for the greater good of tomorrow. When I have my goals. 

Let’s call a spade a spade – that tomorrow never comes. And it certainly hasn’t from my experience. I found myself chasing goals for years!

But it all changed when I adopted this practice.

 

Momentum

Picture of a Newton's cradle, symbolising momentum, when it comes to setting goals

I get up in the morning, and I make the most I possibly can of the day ahead of me.

Whatever jobs come my way, I do the best I can, and I try to finish my day by setting myself up that little bit better for tomorrow.

That little leg up on tomorrow could be the simplest thing, like setting out my clothes, meal prep or writing my to-do list. It comes in lots of different forms. But the key thing is – it always sets me up to be that little bit better off tomorrow.

I’m a big believer in momentum. If you have a good day, it’s that much easier to keep that swing going and have a better day tomorrow. Also, if you have a good day, it’s that much harder to have a worse day tomorrow. Practice builds up gradually, as I’ve spoken about before.

 

Setting Goals and Being in The Now

a man standing on the side of a bridge writing in his notebook, looking out on to the horizon, being present in the moment

Going back to that person who is desperately setting goals in an attempt to feel better, sacrificing today for the good of tomorrow. That person is never going to enjoy or make the most of today if they are living in the tomorrow. It’s not possible.

And as I said before with momentum, that crappy day, makes it all that easier to have a worse day tomorrow. And the next day and the next…which over time compounds into a downward spiral.

Whereas if you let tomorrow take care of itself by bringing yourself back into today, you allow yourself the possibility of having a good today. By present and saying to yourself, I had a good day today. I made the most of it and I set myself up to be that little bit better tomorrow. Going to bed with that sense of satisfaction and completion and slight excitement for how tomorrow can be that little bit better…

The likelihood is that you will have a good, or even better day tomorrow. And…a way better day down the line.

And as that positivity builds up, you’re going to end up in an entirely different world to what you could even imagine…