How Do You Feel About Goals?
Updated: May 7, 2021
I want to talk about setting goals.
A lot of articles or blog posts on this subject focus on the importance of setting goals, making them SMART, writing them down, reviewing them regularly...
I fully agree with all that, but today I want to talk about why some of us struggle with setting goals, or getting clear on what we really want, even when we know the benefits of it.
Some of my friends and clients don't like setting specific goals because they believe that if they set a goal which they then don't achieve, then they are a failure. They forget about or ignore all the other things they will have achieved and learnt in their efforts to achieve the goal they "failed" to achieve. Really there is no failure, only learning and feedback.
I sometimes struggle with setting goals (particularly long term ones), or clearly stating what I really want, for a different reason.
I have spent a lot of time saying "I honestly don't know what I want", and believing myself. But I realised that deep down I did have an idea of what I wanted, but I didn't want to admit it. I believed I would then be committing to that goal or future, and I'd be closing off all the other doors and possibilities. And what if I was wrong about what I wanted? What if I tell people about it then change my mind?
It's taken me some time to realise and trust that I can say what I think I want, I can set goals and make plans based on what I think I want, and that by doing that I'm actually opening up more possibilities for myself, not reducing them.
It can also be really difficult to know if your goal or plan is "right" without trying to make progress towards it, and seeing what that feels like.
Last week one of my coaching clients described our session as "a safe space to try on ideas and plans (like you try on clothes) to see how they fit and feel". Our session was the first time he'd said out loud what his goal and plan was, and he realised that he was actually clearer on what he wanted than he realised, and he felt good and excited by his plan.
By setting a goal we can then take actions towards it, and reflect on how those actions and their results feel. If something doesn't feel right, then we can simply make some adjustments to our goal and action plan, and keep moving forwards. Other unplanned and unexpected things in life will also happen (as 2020 has most definitely proved!), and we have to adjust our goals and plans because of that, and that's OK too.
As we take action and learn from it, we grow and change, and therefore it's normal and natural that our goals change too.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” - Heraclitus
Our goals might actually change completely and suddenly! This can happen if we realise the goal isn't really ours (it's our parents' or society's, for example), or that it isn't aligned with our values.
These are reasons why I check in with my clients at the start of every session to ask about what they've achieved and learnt since our last session, and how that might have affected their goal moving forwards.
It is OK to not know what you want. But it's also OK to know what you want and change your mind about it later. In reality we are all changing our minds and making course-corrections to our journeys through life all the time.
If you'd like to get clearer on what you want and how you're going to get there, and have a safe space in which to explore those ideas, you can book a free 30 minute Discovery Call with me here.
And if you haven't downloaded my FREE guide: "Four Secrets to Creating Work You Love!" yet, grab your free copy here!