The problem with Goals

We are always told how important it is to have goals and SMART objectives, but there is a problem with goals. Goals usually describe what we want to have, get or achieve; these are outcome goals. They are useful when dealing with performance in the workplace and things that are entirely under our control. The problem is that there are many things that we have very little control over, and none of us can be certain what tomorrow will bring. When we use outcome goals as the main measure of success, we are also setting ourselves up for disappointment. If we don't achieve them we become a failure, and if we do achieve them we often discover that it is just another box ticked and our lives are just the same despite any happiness that we anticipated. This is related to fixed mindset. Goals relating to how we will feel are in the same category - none of us can guarantee how we will feel, and trying to control our feelings is a recipe for disappointment.

A better way is to set process goals. This is then a goal relating to how we will act and behave. That is much more under our control, and more satisfying in the long term. Knowing what you stand for and how you want to act is a key part of values-based living, and a more reliable route to a rich and meaningful life. 

So goals are something to be careful with. In the right context they can be incredibly powerful if relating to things in our control that we will do, but if the focus is on what we will get or have then we are setting ourselves up for disappoitment.

The problem with goals