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Why You Should Stop Setting Goals

Why You Should Stop Setting Goals

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about setting goals. I talked about how to set them so that you can actually achieve them. (Here’s a link to it.) Go take a look at it so you can get a running start on today’s discussion: “Why You Should Stop Setting Goals”

“Wait. What?”

“I thought you just told us how to set them. Now you’re saying we should stop?!”

I hear you. And I know it sounds like I’m totally contradicting myself, but bear with me. It’ll make sense in a minute.

Let me clarify a couple of key points before we dive in.

  • Goals are good and you should set them.
  • If you’re going to set goals, the best way is the way we talked about before.


  • If you’re like most people, you’re setting too many, they’re too big, and you’re trying to do it all yourself.

That’s why you should stop.

Not entirely, of course. (See point #1 above.) But you can keep from sabotaging your own goal-setting efforts by making a few tweaks.

Tweak #1: Slow Down

Everything does not have to be a goal.

A recent book, Irresistible by Psychologist Adam Alter, suggests that our technology has “gamified” our lives to the point that we over-exert ourselves in order to meet goals set by rings on our watches or step counters on our phones.

It’s possible to get so caught up in achieving goals that you find yourself turning everything into some kind of contest. And while it may seem like you are becoming a super-productive “goal ninja,” the reality is that you are probably just wearing yourself out.

Alter says, “the nature of a goal is such that you have, for most of the time, effectively a failure state where you’re not achieving whatever that goal is.” That’s got to be pretty frustrating.

If most of our time spent with our goal is in a frustrated “failure” state, it stands to reason that we’re not going to enjoy the end results very much once we finally get there. (Yay…we made it to Disney World. With toddlers. Cross-country. In a VW Golf. Let the fun begin, right?)

Tweak #2: Make Them Smaller

If your goal is to climb Mount Everest, you are going to get incredibly discouraged when someone explains how long it will take and how much you will need to train in order to check that off your to-do list. (Most expeditions take around two months, tens of thousands of dollars, and a lot of difficult conditioning.)

So take large goals and break them down into series of smaller goals that you can reasonably accomplish over time.

Don’t say, “I am going to write a book.” Say, “I am going to write 500 words per day.” After enough days like that, you’ll get your book because you created a system designed to lead you there.

The benefit of small, attainable goals (aside from the built-in victories that keep you from frustration) is that your goals actually become habits, part of your routine.

Tweak #3: Find a Buddy

Anytime we attempt something challenging and we’re facing frustration, we are way more likely to quit if we doing it all by ourselves. (No one will ever know that we started that secret book and quit two chapters in.)

A study by The American Society of Training and Development found that we are 65% more likely to reach a goal if we share it with someone. But get this…we are 95% more likely to complete it if we set a specific appointment with someone related to our goal.

If you tell your boss you’ll get the report on their desk by tomorrow, you’ll get it done.

If you tell your client you’ll deliver (whatever it is you do) by the end of the week, you’ll make it happen.

Simply having someone else in the mix activates something in us that refuses to let them down. Their expectation, coupled with our internal desire to avoid the shame of failure, is a game changer when it comes to achieving our goals.

Plus, when you’ve got a buddy involved, there’s automatically someone to celebrate with when you reach your goal! “Goal Ninja, party of two…your table is ready!”

In Your Corner

If you’re looking for a buddy to partner with to help you achieve goals related to getting your business finances in order, Patrick Accounting has a team of pros who would love the chance to help you!

To find out how, contact us through our website or on the phone at 901-755-5858 in Memphis or 501-834-5757 in Little Rock.

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