Why Setting Goals (MOSTLY) Doesn’t Work

It’s February, the time of year when folks who made New Years’ resolutions begin to lose their New Years’ resolve.  After only a month, those not-so-unreasonable goals– to lose 25 pounds, learn to play guitar, or double your sales from last year–have once again fallen by the wayside, deepening disappointment and reaffirming unconscious voices that whisper “Why even try?  Why even set goals?”

Indeed, why even try to set goals, when trying leads to failure, which makes you feel like an even bigger failure than if you hadn’t tried at all.   Fortunately, this time you didn’t tell anyone about your goal, so at least you don’t have to endure that embarrassment and shame.

The problem with goals, the way most people set them and live into them, is that they put the focus on “success” as being a specific end result.  Which means that every day that they have not reached their goal, they’re living in the painful gap of judging where they are versus where they should be.

We judge ourselves by things we can measure, and we often measure the wrong things in the wrong ways, and we can easily get demoralized.  Life is hard; change requires additional effort; and self-judgment on top of that is the straw that makes the camel lay down and give up.

The key to achieving your goals is shifting the focus from the destination of success to the journey of succeeding; from the focus of measurement of specific results, to the focus on follow-through of processes of succeeding.

You can’t control how many pounds you lose this week (the typical measurement of dieting success) but you can control (and celebrate) the succeeding of reducing your wine consumption, or eliminating bread.  And the continued succeeding in a sustainable process will boost self-esteem and make it easier to continue sustainably, and ultimately lose weight.

Another example of the power of reframing the measure of success is the story of a massage therapist who was struggling to make her rent, and needed to drum up some clients fast.  I suggested that she reach out to 10 previous clients and offer them a special package.  Her fear of rejection put her in paralysis around that idea.  “What if I call 10 people and they all say no?  Then I’ll be even more scared and depressed because I’ll feel like a complete failure!” 

Now, while she couldn’t control the ultimate outcome of her efforts, she could control her definition of succeeding, so I challenged her to see how quickly she could get 10 people to say, “No.”  And that would be the measure of succeeding. 

I wasn’t too surprised when she reported back that he it took her 12 calls to succeed in my challenge because she got 2 “yeses” along the way.

So, what do you really want to accomplish in 2020?

What would it be worth to your life if you accomplished that goal?  What’s the value of powerful and creative reframing that supports you in reaching your goal? 

That’s the value of coaching with me.

How will it boost to your motivation when you have a place to regularly celebrate the process of succeeding? 

That’s the value of coaching with me.

As always, I offer a complimentary breakthrough coaching session for anyone who thinks they might be ready to live into their dreams; that is, create powerful, actual change and finally accomplish your goals. 

This is your year.  Say yes to yourself and send me an email and we’ll set up a time to talk. lucas@lucasroylehman.com