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Goal Setting Doesn’t Work

23rd July 2013

“You need goals,” we are all told if we want to achieve or be more successful in life. “Without goals you will fail.”   The answer to life seems to be goal setting but why are we so terrible at reaching our goals?

Then logical reasoning suggests “you need more motivation, discipline and focus to make goals work.”  So the next goal seems to be trying to make yourself kind of perfect so you can reach your desired goals.  This is a horrible trap to get caught up in which can lead to feelings of failure and worthlessness which of course make any goals seem even further away and harder to achieve. As the brain is  set up to try and avoid risks of negative feelings as soon as any thoughts of doubt are recognised it will do it’s best to go back to what feels safer. Old pattens of behaviour are often seen as a safer option “better the devil you know,” which leads them back to what they did before regardless of how it’s judged.

It also nurtures a mindset of polarity which is black and white or all or nothing style thinking with it’s success or failure result judgement. This can set up the brain to keep looking for the negatives in your goals which filters out what is going right to magnify what is going wrong. With most people believing their thoughts and feelings, this mis management of the mind will just hold them back from a life which could be easier to experience.

With weight loss, happiness, body image and creating more wealth the most popular goals no wonder we have growing economic, obesity and self image issues happening!  Most of my clients are people who keep failing and in the past I would have tried to work on helping them achieve their goals too. No wonder that was such hard work!  With positive thinking traps like The Secret promoting visualisation and goal setting to bring success to you, you would think we would be living in a successful Utopia by now. Millions use positivity thinking and visualisation fruitlessly to bring their goals to fruition which tend to result in the list below.

Goal setting can;

Create guilt

Feelings  of low self worth and failure

Self sabotage with what looks like laziness / procrastination

Create a limited narrow mindset about life

Cause frustration and anger

Nurture “there’s something wrong with me,” attitude

My suggestion is this:  Drop those goals and do something else instead!

With some honesty I looked back over my life and realised that most of the goals I sat down and visualised, planned out and maybe even affirmed just flopped at some point and were not reached.  The “successes” and achievements I had made were really down to being “into” what I was doing. Nurturing a passion for being healthier with some vanity thrown in has helped me with food and gym time.  Just enjoying becoming a better writer is helping me spend 3 hours each day writing my books before I start seeing clients.  I enjoyed letting go of waiting to feel motivated and began to use Mindfulness to shift my attention to the present and go with whatever happens. I just get on with things, no feelings needed to start doing anything.

So instead of goals, nurture your intentions to enjoy more what you want to happen for your life and learn some mind management so you are not held back by thoughts and feelings.  The mind will of course try it’s best to trick you into safer behaviour and away from risks of failure but you don’t have to fall for that old lie do you?

Contact me if you want to chat more about mind management goals and intentions.

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