It’s hard for our minds to stay in the present, and we tend to want a better future. So we set goals. We’re taught this principle with slogans like, “Going for the goal; success is measured by reaching goals; without goals, attempts at success are futile; etc.” Although there are many skeptics about setting goals, we’re a goal setting nation from individuals to large organizations.
According to the World Book Encyclopedia, a “goal is a thing for which an effort is made” or a “thing wanted.” Things you want generally fall into 3 categories…having, doing, or being something. Examples: I want to have a patio behind my house, or I want to learn French, or I want to be 10 pounds lighter. Each one suggests a goal. But we’re all different and reaching the goal may or may not involve a specific plan to get there. Some people need prodding, and others don’t. Some of us would not get out of bed each morning without goals for the day, and some of us cringe at having to function with pre-set goals.
“No one knows how far his strengths go until he has tried them.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Goals may be small achievements or life changing, but they all offer an opportunity to learn and grow. And goal setting probably produces rewards more often than not. But it can also go the other way. When successful, it provides a sense of motivation and purpose, with focus, passion, direction, improved self-esteem, and something to look forward to. But for some people, setting goals can be limiting, and may do more harm than good. It can create a sense of ‘I should’, self-doubt, pressure to succeed and fear of failure, too much living in the future and neglecting the present, and feeling unworthy and depressed if they do fail to reach their goals.
“Determine What you want and Why you want it. Once you understand what’s important, you can utilize your Passions and achieve anything.” ~Brooke Griffin
One size doesn’t fit all, so it’s wise to choose an approach in which you feel comfortable; detailed planning, tentative planning, available doors as you move along, or any method that feels right for you. Whatever your method, get a clear vision of what you want to achieve, why you want it, and how much you’re willing to go through to get it. Then begin creating your process to get there.
I set goals for myself, but I’m not one to map out a way to get there. In my forties, I wanted to work in the Mental Health Field, but had no money for necessary education. I had no idea how I could accomplish such a goal, but I had to do it. So I quit my job, moved to another city, stayed with friends, got another job, and enrolled in school on a loan and later a stipend. While in school, I reached out to some wonderful people for help, I volunteered at seminars for free admission and volunteered at a Mental Health Center to gain experience. And eventually, I had the degrees and training I needed for many happy years doing work I loved. Nothing planned…just opened one door at a time, and reached my initial goal.
“Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.” ~Unknown
If you have a goal and choose to plan ahead, go easy on yourself, and keep your demands reasonable. And to minimize stress, set realistic, flexible standards within your capabilities. Include whatever you will need in each step toward your goal, and list resources for help along the way. Allow for any unforeseen situations that may occur, and be ready to alter your course if needed. Keeping your eye on the goal will keep you motivated. And monitoring the process as you move through it will furnish valuable insight if in the end, you need a second attempt. Don’t give up!
“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining where we are.” ~Oprah
Do you want to make a change in your life, but scared to take a step forward? Well, choose your goal, and ask someone you trust to stand by you through the change process so you don’t feel alone in a threatening world. Be understanding and patient with yourself. And if you fall back, don’t criticize. You’re stronger than you think, and you can make it. And it could make a difference in your life. Move forward into freedom.
I wish you much sunshine on your journey…