We are in the success age.
Where we have unlimited access to information about how to be successful, what success looks like coupled with endless examples of people who, against all the odds, have created great success in their lives.
Success, success, success!!!
We have all attended presentations where the speakers have talked about SMART goals ad-nauseum, which we have left full of enthusiasm only to find a week or two later nothing much has changed.
That our lives have continued to carry on as it always has and that we cannot even remember what we were going to change.
You would think that with access to all this information, we would be living marvellous lives full of joy.
Yet the statistics tell a very different story.
Increased rates of depression, anxiety and suicide not just in adults but, more alarming, in our young people and children.
Many of us seem to be on a running wheel constantly feeling we are falling short and setting the next goal in the hope it will finally give us an opportunity to prove ourselves. To whom I am unsure however, name it or not, it is a large part of why we do the things we do.
I want to invite you to think about something.
Is goal setting robbing you of potential moments of joy and turning them into opportunities for disappointment?
What you were hoping to celebrate becomes something to beat yourself up about and put pressure on yourself to do better next time?
Say I set a goal to lose 10kg in the next 6 months. ( I use weight as an example because it is very tangible and most of us can relate to it on some level)
According to the smart goal enthusiasts it is a great goal –it is specific, it is measurable, it is achievable, its realistic and it has a time frame around it.
Once you have an action plan (yes they are quite important) you know what you need to do and when to do it, and if you have specific measurable milestones along the way then you should succeed.
Accordingly to all the ‘experts’ anyway.
In 6 months’ time you should be experiencing your new, trim and taut body and all that comes with having more energy and feeling better about those mirrors in changing rooms.
6 months ticks along.
6 months of hard work and reaching those magic milestones that tell you are on track.
You stand on the scales- 9.5kg’s lost?
Now you are upset – you are disappointed in yourself and feel like a failure, which ironically enough, will often thrust you back into the behaviour that got you into needing to lose 10kgs to begin with.
I feel the need to pose a question.
Is not losing 500gms something to get upset about?
Is not losing 500gms something to beat yourself up about?
Does not losing 500gms mean you have no right to celebrate and should feel disappointed in yourself?
Actually, it is a ridiculous thing to get upset about and takes away from the other 9.5kgs you have lost.
It takes away from your commitment to honour yourself and do something positive for your health.
Surely a reason to celebrate – the joy of the hard work you have put in to get you this far.
Or we get to the goal and we now shift the goalposts – so success that once looked like this – has now changed and looks like something harder, bigger, more difficult.
You never actually allow yourself to rest on your laurels, even for a brief period of time.
Does it not seem floored to you?
I am not anti goals – I am confused about how we go about it.
Before you set the next goal I would invite you to think about the following things:
· Is it something that in your heart you know you want to achieve or is it because your head says you should?
· Do you understand the reasons you have set it and what you will gain from achieving it?
· Do you have emotion attached to the goal or is it something that someone suggested would be a good idea?
· Is the goal about you or about those around you? Losing weight because you want people to notice is a sure-fire way to get into the weight loss roller coaster.
· Does your goal help other people? You are far more likely to achieve a goal that is for the greater good than one that just benefits you.
· Do you have hopes that everyone will notice what you achieve and shower you with accolades?
· Is it truly what you want? Really, truly what you want?
When we are measuring success by someone else’s measuring stick we are bound to set ourselves up for disappointment and to feed that nagging sense of inadequacy that gnaws away at most of us.
What would happen if you did not set goals?
If the love of doing something was enough to feed your soul?
If there was no measuring stick that we had to compare ourselves with.
Then nothing would happen, I hear you say.
Or, is there a possibility that what we discover on the journey, on the road to creating things we love, may be way more magical.