Why Having Goals Can Suck

Every motivational speaker talks about the importance of having goals -- including yours truly. But if you're feeling overwhelmed by a goal, it might be because you're looking at the end and not embracing the journey. The problem with most goals is that we celebrate the results and not the process. Meaning that we might have some big goal, with no real plan about how to get there. This can be discouraging, causing you to do nothing and your great American novel never makes it to throngs of adoring fans.

To be clear, this is in no way to discourage you from having goals. Goals are friggin great! I'm simply offering up a few tips to make the huge goal in front of you a bit closer. So if you are in a rut, here are some things you can do to prevent feeling stuck with a goal:

1. Celebrate the execution and not the results. Any golfer will attest that some days you can be striking the ball great, but you have a few bad bounces and your score doesn't reflect how well you played. But if you're doing everything you can to hit the ball well, you should celebrate! After all, if you keep that up, eventually the results will reflect your work. The same principle is true in many walks of life. You might not have sales results today, but if you're following a steady process, eventually the results will come.

2. Just one thing. I have a friend who finished his basement himself. Now, he's a handy guy, but not finish-a-whole-basement-by-yourself handy. When I asked him how he did it, he said he did, "Just one thing every day. Some days that meant pounding in a single nail, but at least I did one thing. And a funny thing happened: Almost every day I did more than one thing while I was down there and eventually the basement was completed."

3. Find a mantra. Sometimes a key phrase can keep you going. (Warning: brag alert.) I spoke to a group last year about putting yourself out there and going for it, which I call "Don't flinch." A gentleman from the group told me last week that those words were his mantra for the year. Oh, and by the way, he just finished his first marathon. His son even went to the course holding a "Don't flinch" sign to encourage him along the way. They are just simple words, but they kept him going. And after I threatened to sue him for copyright infringement, I congratulated him on his success.

And three-and-a-half: It's okay to quit. Not exactly the uplifting words you expected? Well, they can be true. For five years I tried my hand as an actor in Hollywood and by the end, I wasn't really into it. I was simply going through the motions for the sake of "making it" and finishing what I started. Eventually, I checked in with myself and said, "Self, I don't really want to do this anymore." So, I quit. But with every ending comes a new beginning; by quitting something that is no longer inspiring, you gain the freedom to start something new.

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Categories: Change Management Motivation & Inspiration Success Through Failure