We are convinced that the road to our goals should be a positive experience. Recently though, we were confronted with a question. “Are the negative emotions inevitable in the process of achieving an objective?”
The issue was raised by one of our online course subscribers. This person was working hard and successfully towards a financial goal. And yet, it was far from a great experience for her. Today we will try to get to the bottom of why some objectives can make us quite unhappy.
Marketing a falsehood
Ivan was attending a very interesting seminar when in the middle of it something grabbed his attention. It was a statement within the part dealing with procedures and regular results – “An achievement is a short-lived state. It sets boundaries on our happiness.”
He immediately knew where this was coming from. It was a telling example of the so-called “a controversy marketing strategy”. Many of the gurus in personal development have been employing it to get more attention and popularity.
It goes on like this:
You take a trendy topic, like goal-setting and then you state just the opposite to what’s widely accepted. You aim to shock at first only to come at a later point to the same conclusions as the original concept.
That was exactly the case with the seminar’s message. The lecturer was very skillful in using this marketing trick.
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”
The above example plus the many other recent developments in the field reveals the origin of the idea that goals are somehow a bad thing. It is simply a statement whose sole purpose is to get your attention while, in fact, being without any real substance or justification.
But there is another factor at play here. It is addressed, and sincerely we have to say, by some people based on what happened to them.
This attitude can put success out of reach for you. Of course, this could also be easily used as an excuse when we fail. But that’s only partially true!
One can reach their goals and yet be to a degree somewhat unhappy.
This was the case with the person whose question we started with today. She employed our system and was doing a fairly good job of it but at the same time, she knew that something was wrong.
But if it isn’t the system then the problem must be elsewhere. It is, in fact, in the very type of an objective you set.
The way you use the system
Just like a knife can be either a weapon or a surgeon’s scalpel, “GoalBuddy” could be a potent tool depending on how applied.
It won’t fail you but you have to think hard what your target must be.
If you aim at things that you don’t truly want then you will end up struggling along the way regardless of how great the outcome might be.
A matter of careful selection
Let’s say you have two goals. One is to buy the fancy car you’ve been dreaming of for a while and the other is a project at work which barely excites you.
“GoalBuddy” will definitely help you get both done.
You might feel good about the new car for a couple of weeks but there is an expiration date on this sentiment. Of course, this feeds into your limiting belief that success is a fleeting thing and doesn’t produce lasting happiness.
As for your second objective, let’s suppose you are working so hard that it takes away all the joy of it even if there is plenty of progress. You don’t have much of a choice but keep using our system since it is so effective. And that will reinforce your impression that goals must be the root of our misery.
Obviously, your decision is the problem here. What can you do!
The “right” goals
The solution is to have a balanced mix of objectives with the right ratio of those that motivate you most.
And we mean those that can fill you with energy and drive you all your life:
Goals for development
They say that the two most basic human instincts are to grow and to improve.
Growth refers to personal betterment and becoming the best version of yourself. This is an ongoing process when the state of feeling fulfilled never leaves you.
It’s only normal to lose interest in something already achieved while it’s equally natural to follow our instinct to improve.
Let’s look now at the three reasons why you should put the emphasis on this type of goals:
# 1 The long-term effect
Improving your communication skills is one example. You can work on it for as long as you feel like it. It will never end since you can’t wake up one morning and decide that you mastered it to the fullest. Instead, you get better and better over time.
Furthermore, this will serve you well not just here and there but in everything – family, friends, work, etc.
And the best thing is that it’s for life. That’s how you give your efforts meaning and purpose.
# 2 Your success is a sure thing
Your progress in self-improvement is inevitable simply because it’s human nature.
In any case, whether it’s about forming a habit (eg, reading every day) or certain actions (such as an enrolling in a class), your task is to do what you’ve planned for the quarter.
The change will come with time building upon a number of small improvements. If not, then you have to try again at another time and with a new line of action. There are no failures but only lessons.
# 3 An incentive for life
The main reason behind the motivational longevity of this type of goals is self-interest.
For all of our higher aspirations, we are human after all and therefore very much self-centered.
Just look at the popularity of personality tests, horoscopes, and any other ways to find out more about our inner world. Personal development and skills will always rank at the top for us. They excite and fill us with positive emotions while on the trip towards a better self.
The characteristics of the perfect 90-day goal
What is it like to have such an objective? It doesn’t stop pushing us, it lasts for years, and it never disappoints.
There are two main features to consider:
- It challenges us;
- But it does it without breaking us.
Here’s what these two are about.
It must be related to something new in order to capture our imagination.
We already discussed those objectives that maintain our previous success. But the real fun begins with those that challenge us in a completely new and unfamiliar manner.
This could be going to the gym for the first time. Or another example is when you choose a completely unfamiliar route for your early morning run in the park. You should try different approaches to your vision. It might take you nowhere but it also may very well be exactly what you needed.
This second characteristic of the perfect goal lies in how you define it. The objective should be worded in such a way that it gets you out of the comfort zone.
The key here is the gradual and measured effort. It’s hardly helpful to just snap out of it. It’s much better to time it with slightly greater effort in each quarter. For example, if you never exercised on a regular basis it will be unwise to jump right into something extreme like CrossFit. Instead, one should start with an easier workout which once a routine you can build upon by increasing the load.
Still, even if one of your targets for the quarter becomes too much for you, try to make sure that your other 90-day goals bring you great and enjoyable experiences.
A balancing act
You should spare yourself or you might burn out. The excitement is an indispensable part but you can’t run for too long only on it.
It’s simply not smart to push yourself almost to the breaking point. Otherwise, all sort of negatives may take over and you give in to the notion that this is too hard for you.
You should strive for challenging and inspiring dreams. They will make you better and more positive while keeping your spirits up.
How to push forward
The upward spiral of advancement and the increased confidence are the most appreciable elements of the trip. Every step forward brings satisfaction and proves that you can handle bigger challenges since it is due to your own achievements and courage.
Can a goal be a “bad” thing, after all?
Don’t forget to take anything they tell you with the necessary grain of salt. There is much talk but only to spark controversy of the marketing type while others do it to justify their failure. And there are those who haven’t set their priorities well enough and suffered the consequences of being frustrated and emotionally down.
Well, there isn’t a single good reason to be like that. A lot more than you suspect is in your own hands.
Set targets for self-improvement and be inspired. Over time, you will inevitably get closer to fulfilling your true potential as a human being. And, of course, a happy one too.