Unrealistic Goals Can Sabotage Your Life and Your Happiness
It's time to eliminate the self-delusion and frustration you've carried with you for years
There are lots of different goal-setting strategies (S.M.A.R.T, MBO, and other processes of determining what comes next in your life). And they’re all based on some derivation of identifying what’s most important to you and prioritizing your time and resources to bring it into reality.
Unfortunately, setting goals simply doesn’t work for the majority.
Every year it’s the same story: We bring out last year’s goals and transfer the same unaccomplished objectives to our new list, vowing that this year is going to be different!
Maybe we add a few new objectives, but the big goals — the ones we’ve carried forward for the last five or ten years — are still there, taking their usual place of prominence at the top of the list.
Probable chances of accomplishing those carried-forward goals? About the same as last year. And the year before.
There’s a part of us that knows that. But we dutifully copy those vintage goals to our new list, congratulating ourselves for our continued persistence, and wondering if this is the year it’s all going to happen.
In short, we’re holding onto a fantasy, justifying our irrational belief that as long as we keep the goal on the list, we’re keeping our options open.
Let’s see . . . Movie star? Rock singer? Builder of a Fortune 100 company? Sure, why not?
It could happen.
Yes, it could. But deep down inside, you know it won’t. Because you’re fifty and want success in an industry that idolizes youth. Or you have a family that depends on you financially, or you’re financially responsible for invalid parents, or the most likely reason . . .
It’s Not What You Really Want To Do with Your Life!
Sure, it would be great to have the recognition and income of someone who has an established career in the entertainment industry or to have the freedom and security of running your own successful company.
And yet, if you really wanted it, you’d have done something about it. You would have obtained enough feedback from your preliminary attempts to realize you’re either not cut out to deal with the competition, the long nights, or the unbalanced lifestyle — or you’d have made the decision to persist, to move forward, to take the next step.
Invariably, whenever I write an article like this, I have someone ask . . .
“What’s wrong with believing in a little fantasy?”
On the surface, nothing.
But if a part of you still believes that someday, the right person, situation, or circumstance will put you in the spotlight and your world will suddenly change for the better, you’re lying to yourself. Do it long enough, and you create a special kind of baggage, packed with excuses and regrets — collected reminders of personal failure.
Even worse, carrying an unrealistic goal on the books long after you’ve failed to achieve it keeps you from considering other, more realistic goals — things that could truly make a difference in your life.
So if you’re ready to create some new goals this year, great!
Just leave the fantasy of movie-make-believe and misplaced hero worship off the table. While they’re expressions of hope that our lives can be more than they’ve been, they take the place of real goals and realistic objectives that could truly make a difference in our lives.
Roger A. Reid, Ph.D. is a certified NLP trainer with degrees in engineering and business. Roger is the author of Better Mondays and Speak Up, and host of Success Point 360 Podcast, offering tips and strategies for achieving higher levels of career success and personal fulfillment in the real world.
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