You Should Stop Setting Goals

They aren’t making you a better person

River D'Almeida, Ph.D

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Photo by nappy from Pexels

As a society, we’re obsessed with the future — that amorphous blob that’s shaped based on the choices we make today. According to self-improvement gurus, the future is completely under our control with a little motivation and focus. We can shape our tomorrows, simply by setting goals. Aim little red dots on your dreams and make your hard work count for something.

If like me, you’ve set more goals than you can remember, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look. Are goals really jet thrusters propelling you to greater heights or simply brick-filled suitcases that you’ve been lugging around?

It’s certainly difficult to escape career goals, given that it’s how we’ve always run our workplaces and organizations. Personal professional goals and team goals feed into bigger company targets that in turn feed the corporate goal of total world domination.

Even in your personal life, there they are: #SquadGoals, #FitnessGoals, #FamilyGoals.

And remember those times when you didn’t meet a goal? That crushing disappointment, wondering what you could have done differently to change outcomes. Even if you did hit the target, the satisfaction is way too fleeting. Naturally, your first thought is, what’s next? Before you know it, you’re back on the grind trying to raise the bar.

The problem is that this constant chase with outstretched arms is neither sustainable nor is it enjoyable. It’s a path that leads to burnout, self-loathing, and eventually, you give up on goals altogether. How many New Year’s Eve resolutions have been left to languish once March rolls around?

There is a better way. If goals are like a fad diet, this is more of a lifestyle change. A way of appreciating the journey rather than the destination.

The Gold Standard

The gold standard was once a monetary system where the value of a country’s currency was defined in terms of gold. This fixed price was used to determine the value of the currency to make exchanges fair. While the system was abandoned in the 1930s, the phrase is still used to describe something that’s the best in class, the most reliable, or most valued.

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River D'Almeida, Ph.D

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