Goals – friends or enemies?

Our society is based on success; that is obvious in our everyday life. Examples can be seen everywhere: At school we are praised for getting good grades or for studying hard. In our job, we are rewarded when achieving specific targets. In sports, athletes are rewarded for their victories. The message is clear – we must succeed!

Our based – on success – approach, requires the use of goals in order to form and define our achievements. We can all think of our own goals, even if we never took the time to write them down on a piece of paper (which is considered a big mistake in the case of achieving goals!). In a broader extent, defining and attempting to achieve goals, is an ordinary and useful process. It configures behavior and encourages people to take action they wouldn’t do, under other circumstances. The definition of goals can provide clarity and a feeling of direction; it can focus on efforts and tame the power of groups.

However the inevitable – sometimes – result of not achieving a goal makes us feel awful with ourselves. This feeling can also appear even when unknown factors affect the result of our goal. For many people, their personal definition of success has to do with achieving goals. “If I get this work, or buy this house or get in this group, then I’ll be successful”. So, the failure of achieving a goal makes us feel “losers”. This particular belief is the root for the majority of daily problems we may face. All of us, at some point, will fail to achieve a goal. Is there any other way to deal with it though?

Maybe the biggest change that must be done can be found at the core definition of success. If you measure the level of your success based on factors such as your job or what you own, try to take the next test: Fill out the sentence “I know I’m successful when …” Start by trying to find ways to fill the sentence with actions that have nothing to do with your job and do not include material goods. The sentences must personal and have a certain meaning to you.

Some examples are:

  • I know I am successful when I wake up in the morning eager for each day.
  • I know I am successful every time my children make me laugh.
  • I know I am successful when the level of my energy is high!

Changing your personal belief about measuring success, is an excellent way to relieve the pressure of achieving specific goals. Even if you don’t get the promotion or buy the house you’ve seen, you are still successful according to your own definition.

Another way to reduce the pressure of achieving goals is in fact to forget about them. Instead of focusing on the goal itself, try to think what you can do daily that will bring you a step closer to your goal.

My goal is not to reverse the process of using goals. The definition of goals is a crucially useful tool for many people in a lot of situations. However if your goals are many or absorb a big part of your energy, consider the possibility to reset the measure of success or to put aside for a while some particular goals. Feel the freedom! And choose to succeed!