3 Reasons Why Goals Are Actually Evil & 3 Solutions To This Problem
Productivity coaches and time management wizards can get a heart attack after reading this title: Goals are really that bad? Right from the school to the college and then job, we have been listening that a successful person create goals in order to accomplish anything in life; in case you don’t have goals, it means that you don’t have any desire to win.
But there is a catch here: Creating goals and tracking its success can wear you down emotionally.
Tracking success with goal completion marathon can lead to some extreme conditions such as depression and lack of motivation. Goals are often like chains – even if one strand is broken, the whole system collapses, making the things more complicated.
We need to understand the difference between goals and system.
Goal vs System
The secret alternative to goals is system, a process. There is a vast difference between these two, and often success and failure depends on this understanding of the difference.
If you are an entrepreneur, your goal is to create a million dollar company, but your system should be innovation, improvement and sales/marketing.
If you are a writer, then you goal should be selling bestseller books, but the system should be to write daily, no matter what happens in your life.
If you are a programmer, then your goal should be to create world class software but the system should be to write neat, logical error-free code day in and day out.
If the differences are still not clear, then let me tell you another secret: Even if you forget the goals in between, and stick to the system, you will eventually reach your goals!
Here are 3 reasons Goals are bad for your life and three reasons you should embrace the system:
1) Goals Can Destroy Your Happiness
A person who is hell bent on achieving goals put off a lot of things in life, for the sake of that goal. Reaching that target becomes his life, which can often result in reduced happiness.
Internally, the goal-obsessed person thinks that he will be only happy once he reaches his goal, and then next goal and the cycle continues. Life then becomes an event of ‘achieving goals’ rather than enjoying the journey and the process.
After a while, you just can’t remain happy; goals and the results have hijacked it!
Alternative: Choose System; Choose Happiness
A better alternative is to choose a system, a process which takes you along the way of success. When there is no goal to ‘achieve’ but a system to ‘follow’, things become easier and manageable. Imagine the stress an entrepreneur feels when he has to ‘achieve’ the goal of becoming a million dollar company, compared to the happiness he feels when ‘following’ the process of innovation and improvement and sales and marketing, on a daily basis. The ultimate result is of-course, million dollar company.
B) Goals Can Destroy Long Term Progress As The Focus Is On Immediate Results
When I was in school, I remember my class teacher assigning goals to every student in the form of homework for the summer vacations. For me, and for the most of the students, there was entirely no motivation to learn new things in that free time or experimenting with science to produce something unique. Our only motive was to achieve those goals of completing the homework, and then go play.
Goals have an hidden urgency with them; terms like ‘deadlines’ and ‘targets’ make them solely focused on the ‘now’. There is no long term benefits associated with the goals because as soon as you achieve the goals, the importance of the whole thing flies off the air.
Alternative: Choose System; Choose Long Term Benefits
If my teacher had taught me to understand the process and embrace the system, then doing homework would have been an adventure! While following the process, you tend to enjoy the journey and not treat it as a formality which should be done.
By focusing on the process and the system, you can get a 360 degree view of things and it results in long term advantages.
C) Goals Will Force You To Control Things You Can’t
Creating goals make you a warrior, literally. Scientists have found that once a goal has been created, the human’s pre-historic part of mind assumes that we are in a jungle, ready to fight animals and then winning is no longer a choice, it becomes a necessity.
We go after things which are not even under our control to achieve that goal, which makes the whole thing unpleasant, and very hard. As shared earlier, not only happiness is destroyed but long term benefits are also ignored.
We begin to predict and calculate and try to game the system, just to achieve that goal. We forget the core reason which started the whole operation, and we lose a lot of things, that are simply not worth it.
What is the point of earning a million dollars, when you can’t smile?
Alternative: Choose System; Choose Life
By choosing a system, a process of accomplishing things in your life, you are providing yourself with lots of flexibility and creativity. By leveraging your existing skills, experience and network, you can bring about exciting innovations and breakthroughs, which were not possible with goals which are generally very stubborn and result-oriented.
Goals must be treated like milestones of your activities, not a race which needs to be won. Goals no doubt provide a framework for the whole process, but don’t let that framework dictate and bully the process and the system.
The only goal for any human being should be happiness: Happiness for you and your loved ones. Don’t let it destroy just because a goal has to be achieved!
Enjoy the process, relish the journey and make it a memorable life.