Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
A goal properly set is halfway reached. Zig Ziglar
On Saturday I started a course through the Mississauga Art Gallery. The theme of the course is “How can we use stories and art to convey our experiences of border crossings, both literal and metaphorical?”
We had an after meeting on zoom which was very interesting and I look forward to getting to know some very interesting people over the course of five weeks. The course is quite intensive. We have Asynchronous learning (on our own) and two zoom sessions per week. In the course I don’t have to set goals, everything is set up for me and if I attend every session I will remain on track. It will be a very interesting course, and it only lasts five weeks
When we are not involved with something as structured as this is when we have to set goals. Not being a goal-setting person I wondered is there a downside to setting goals and it seems there is.
One of the problems with goals is they can bring about tunnel vision. We can abandon other important things to focus on “one big thing.” When goals are too big or the cost of not hitting them too high people can resort to unethical behavior to reach their goals.
Setting too big of goals can backfire. If only ten percent of “stretch goals” ever get hit is it worth making them? We may feel like a failure if our goals are so big we can hardly or never reach them. Sometimes our goals don’t inspire us because deep down they aren’t what we want. My son told me about the author Mark Manson who was studying to be a musician and when he realized he had to practice six hours a day he thought this isn’t for me.
He spoke to one of his fellow students and asked him, “How do you manage to practice six hours a day?” The student looked at him blankly. Years later Mark Manson was a blogger and someone came up to him and asked him how he could write so much and he looked at the questioner blankly. He realized there is a difference between feeling like you have to do something and wanting to do something.
Had I set strict goals for my writing when I first started writing, I think I would have made myself feel like a failure. 2012 to 200 would not have been the timeline I would have set to complete my first novel. The goal I did set was to write. The goal is still to write, although I am setting milestones I hope to meet and the stretch goal is to write and publish my second novel in one year.
People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them. Tony Robbins.
I am embracing Bill Gate’s quote, “We overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in ten years.” Moving forward in a slow and steady way may not seem exciting. We may think we need “big goals” but progress, steady progress may get us somewhere that a “big goal” would have left us feeling pressured resulting in us giving up completely.
I’ve set goals when I’ve been involved in multi-level marketing and it has never worked out for me. I always told myself I got in too late, but of course, that isn’t true. The truth is I heard about big audacious goals but I didn’t persevere and perhaps didn’t believe in the products or program and work as hard at it as those who became successful. Eventually, I quit. I know a few people who stayed with multi-level programs – they haven’t made it “big” but they also haven’t quit and they love what they are doing, the people they meet, and the difference they make in other people’s lives.
Making it big is not a goal we have control over. We can set a goal to write a book, we can set milestones, we can look for a publisher or self-publish. But, we can’t control what books are going to fly off the shelf. We can’t know what song will be the hit this year. What toy everyone will be looking for at Christmas?
It seems there is a Goldilocks Rule of setting goals. The human brain loves a challenge, but only if it is within an optimal zone of difficulty. If we work on challenges at an optimal level of difficulty they have been found to not only be motivating but also to be a major source of happiness. Regardless of how it is measured, the human brain needs some way to visualize our progress if we are to maintain motivation.
Do our goals fit into the Goldilocks rule of setting goals? Is what we are setting out to do within our ability but be a bit of a challenge? Can we see the results of our progress?
If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes. Andrew Carnegie
It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach. Benjamin E. Mays
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. Henry David Thoreau
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