Who do you reckon needs goal-setting more – under-achievers or over-achievers?
I’ve written a lot about the importance of setting goals. If you’re not setting goals for yourself, if you’re not mapping out your direction in life, then you could end up anywhere.
And maybe you’re ok with ending up anywhere. A lot of people seem to be. And a lot of people certainly seem to feel that way when they’re young and invincible.
But ask yourself seriously, would you be just as happy spending your retirement on yacht off the Whitsundays as you would holed up in a tiny retirement home eating dog food?
If you’re not going to be equally happy with those scenarios then, actually, you do care where you’re life is heading. If you care where your life is heading and you want to do something about it, you need to set some goals.
Goals give you direction. Goals give you focus. Goals help you pull all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Goals tell you when to rest.
Wait a minute. Rewind selecta. What was that last one?
Goals help you rest.
Goals tell you when you’ve met your targets, and it’s time to relax and enjoy some leisure time.
If you’re goals aren’t doing that for you, what is?
For most people it’s when the work site closes and they go home for the day. They get told when to stop.
But more and more people are their own boss. So when do you stop? You could earn a bit more money if you stayed up after the kids are in bed to put in a few hours.
You could earn even more if you skipped reading the kids bedtime stories. More again if you skipped dinner with the family.
Goals give you a clear conscience. I’ve done what I needed to do, now I can relax.
I sometime joke that it’s not under-achievers who need goal-setting the most. It’s over-achievers.
Sure, under-achievers could benefit from a bit of extra drive and direction. But look, we live in a successful and peaceful country. You’re not going to go too far wrong. Even if you end up in the retirement home / dog-food scenario, it could be worse. You’ll probably have a decent time chatting to the pretty nurses and watching reruns of the Simpsons.
But for over-achievers, the downside scenario is a lot nastier.
And I’ve seen it a lot. The people who have the law degree and the medicine degree; the triathlon medals, the certificates of gratitude from countless charities and community organisations.
They have done an incredible amount with their lives simply because they have just never stopped.
Some people are geared that way and have a grand time of it. But some people pay a heavy price – either in terms of their relationships and the things that truly matter, or in terms of their own health.
They drive themselves into an early grave.
And a lot of people seem to get hooked on achievement for achievement’s sake. They’re running around like headless chooks trying to fill this whole inside of themselves.
“Maybe if I stuff another trophy in there I might feel like I’m good enough. Like I’m ok….
… like I can take a break.”
But unless they’ve mapped out a clear vision for their life, the buzz of one accolade is quickly replaced with the hunger for another. And on they go.
It’s one of the most powerful things that comes out of the goal setting process. You have to decide what it is you really want.
It just doesn’t work with out it.
And if you can face yourself with real honesty and genuine curiosity, and ask yourself, what do I really want – follow that line of questioning deeper and deeper, you can learn an incredible amount about yourself.
You might realise, that you don’t want to be a doctor. You just want to be respected.
You might realise that you don’t need to be a famous opera singer, you just want to feel loved and connected.
You might realise you don’t need a million bucks, you just need enough space in life to enjoy the ride.
And the better you understand what it is you want, the better able you are to make yourself happy.
How good is that?
So this is just one of the reasons I push the goal setting stuff so hard with my students. It defines your to do list, and tells you when it’s time to take a break, so you don’t end up driving yourself into the ground.
Goal-setting also automatically tunes you in to what you really want – what your heart really wants when it knows it doesn’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations anymore.
So, get on board.
Do goals help you take a break? Have they helped you figure out what you really want?