Monday, November 14, 2011

The Problem With Setting Goals

GoalsImage by stilllearninghowtofly - W W Tribe Psychiatrist via FlickrBy Susan Leigh

Setting ourselves goals is important to success and personal development. They motivate us, add to our quality of life, introduce us to new skills and competencies. How could there possibly be any problems with doing that? Let's have a look at some of the problems and issues that can arise from setting goals.

What criteria do you use to set a goal?

Landmarks are often used as the rationale behind setting a goal. A person may be newly single, have been made redundant or reached a significant birthday and is determined to reinvent themselves. There can be many factors that influence our goal setting. For some people it is about money and the requirement to earn, for others they may want to freshen up their image or do something that was always a dream.

Often the desire for a better quality of life and inner satisfaction are major motivators at these times. Sometimes though it is important to stop and do our homework first, investigate the reasons behind our decisions and understand what we are letting ourselves in for before we rush into something new.

Whose voice do you hear when you set yourself a goal?

Some people come to realise that they choose their endeavours and goals in life based on the hopes, dreams and approval of others. The approval of parents, teachers, loved ones can be a major factor in deciding which direction to take in life.

Often parents want the best for the children and this frequently equates to good academic success and a professional career. This can be problematic for the more creative, artistic child who may shelve their own desires in a desperate bid for approval. Coming to realise that for most parents, seeing their children happy and content whether they be a gardener or a brain surgeon can take a while to be appreciated and acknowledged.

How do you ensure a balance between the various areas of life?

One problem is that goals can become all-consuming. It is important to commit with enthusiasm to a goal; after all there is no point in doing something half-heartedly. But balance is the key to performing well and the fact is that everyone works better when they have a healthy balance between family, friends and personal life as well as work.

The reality is that people return to their work with renewed inspiration and vigour after they have had a break. Even if it means simply stopping for food or a visit to the gym, a break helps to alleviate stress, think of something else for a time and then return to the task in hand with a calmer, clearer focus.

How do you measure success?

On occasion it can be difficult to decide when a goal has been reached. If it is climbing Everest or running a marathon it is straightforward to measure what has been achieved. But for some goals, success is a more nebulous result. Often projects change and evolve over time. The outcome can become more fluid as new angles emerge and a different or modified direction is taken. Goals can motivate as they evolve, but it is also important to take stock and value what has been done and achieved along the way too.

Setting goals can lift us out of our comfort zone and introduce some positive stress into our life. Ensuring that we use goals to motivate us whilst keeping a healthy balance in our life helps us to stay on track and enjoy the opportunity they provide to enhance and improve our life.

Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples in crisis to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.

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