Today I’d like to talk how to use goals intentionally.
To some, goals may seem like the best thing ever and to others they may seem like the worst thing ever (and sometimes both at the same time).
Ironically, the source of goal excitement and fear emanates from the same source.
They are simply opposite ends of the spectrum of “What Goals Say About Me.”
On the exciting end, it can seem like goals are a pathway to feeling fulfillment, success, and happiness!
Goals = : )
On the other end of the spectrum, they can feel like indicators that we are never enough and can never measure up.
Goals = : (
Thankfully, neither of these goal perspectives is true.
Goals are simply tools that measures our effort.
They are not essential to live a full and ‘successful’ life.
They are not good.
Like scissors, goals are simply tools which have the power to benefit or harm us — depending on how we use them.
Let’s take a look at how to use goals in a positive, productive way – by breaking a common assumption and measuring our goals peacefully.
Assumption: Completing goals will make us fulfilled and joyful.
Quite simply, they cannot.
We feel fulfilled and joyful when we are acting in accordance with our deepest values in the present moment (ie: intention).
Goals simply measure progress and effort on the Doing level of our lives.
If too much emphasis is put on the goal, rather than the intention behind the goal, we find ourselves caught up in our own personalized version of “the rat race.”
We’ll always be focusing on getting to the next moment so we can be closer to reaching our goal.
Then, we make new goals.
The cycle is endless. Short bursts of pride and happiness fade quickly after we reach our goals.
Enduring fulfillment and joy illude us.
For those who find it difficult to live in the present moment, this attachment to goal setting may be partially responsible. Overemphasizing goals can leave us future tripping to the finish line, unable to focus on the moment at hand.
Now that we know that we fulfillment and joy are experienced independent of goals, we must also consider how we measure goal success.
Measure goals based on effort, not outcome.
Yes, we all know that goals should be S.M.A.R.T., but what we specifically aim for matters a great deal.
Instead of measuring goal success based on an outcome (get 500 Facebook followers, lose X pounds, make $X), we must measure goal success based on our effort.
This might seem a little bit crazy. After all, most of the time we naturally set goals so we can get specific outcomes.
But this is really setting ourselves up for a lot of pain.
You see, outcomes are byproducts of principles.
And if we accidentally pick the wrong principle to act upon, we may have the very best intentions and try our best, but we will never reach our desired outcome.
Then, when we don’t get our desired outcome, we’ll feel like we have “failed.”
When in fact, we may have executed our goal perfectly and to the best of our ability.
To understand the relationship between principles and outcomes better, let’s take a look at flying.
Throughout history, men have tried to fly. In ancient times, they attached feathers to their arms like birds and tried jumping off of towers.
As you can imagine… they were unsuccessful.
If these men tied their “goal success” to the outcome of flying, they obviously failed.
Not because the didn’t try or want it badly enough.
Heck, they were jumping off of buildings!
They “failed” simply because they didn’t execute according to the natural principles of flight.
The same is true for us in our daily lives.
We may deeply want a particular outcome, but we may not have a complete understanding of the principles that determine that outcome.
So we may decide to keep trying the same few methods over and over to get a specific result which may never occur.
In this scenario we have failed, regardless of our effort, heart, and perseverance.
We would be much better off deciding to measure our goal’s success on our own effort instead.
If we find that our methods outlined in our goal do not get us an outcome we desire, we can simply try new methods aligned with different principles to get the outcome we seek.
Execute our goal. Celebrate our efforts. Evaluate the result.
If we don’t like the outcome, we can try different actions that may reap different outcomes.
This process allows us to approach the “how” we do things less rigidly.
In this case, outcomes are still relevant, they are just not the determining factor to our goal’s success.
Thomas Edison is perhaps the most celebrated intentional goal setter.
He “failed” over 10,000 times to find the solution to the light bulb. But rather than look at each attempt as a failure he said,
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
He innately understood that his success dwelled in his effort, not on his attempts that defied the principles of light.
We can do this, too.
We must simply act according to our intentions in the present moment, set goals that measure our efforts, and adapt until our actions align with principles that produce our desired results.
Want to learn more about intentions, goal setting, and fulfillment?
The second Life with Intention Online class sold out last week, so I’ve added two more classes in March!
Click here to RSVP.