I hate goals!

Let’s be clear about this. I really mean it. I hate goals. I have tried – seriously tried hard – to develop my own personal set of goals, but after 6 months’ work they still had DRAFT written across them in large letters, and I wasn’t happy.

Goals just don’t work for me. For a long time I thought it was just me, but I have come to the conclusion that for a lot of people goals don’t work a lot of the time. Instead of being a spur to action they become burdensome and limiting. So here’s my theory:

  1. It’s hard work, and it’s all down to me.

    Please don’t tell me ever again about eating elephants one bite at a time. I don’t want to eat the damned elephant however you slice it. Working towards my goals is all my responsibility to do, and all my fault when progress isn’t made. I just didn’t try hard enough. I clearly didn’t want it enough. I feel depressed. I need to lie down.

  2. I’m missing my life.

    So I pull my resources together and focus, really focus on the elephant in front of me. But if my focus is so strongly on some future imagined state, it’s way too easy to lose awareness of the here and now, and forget to live my life today.

  3. Heaven forbid I achieve my goal.

    It won’t magically change anything. My imagined future, the glorious technicolour 3D image I’d unknowingly built around the specifics of the goal itself almost certainly won’t be there. And then what? I’ve worked hard to reach the pinnacle and I find it’s really a cliff edge, and I’m on my way down. This article about one of the UK Olympic gold medallists says it all.

To be fair, for some people goals work a treat. The kind of pressure that sends me round the twist gets them up with a bounce in their step every morning. So now I am addressing the rest of this post to the people like me – the normal ones.

Standing still isn’t an option (although for a short while to smell the roses it’s idyllic). We do need some kind of forward momentum in our lives. Let’s call it intention. The great thing about clear intentions is that they are things I can be doing now and into the future. They don’t have the terrible, leaden end points that goals do. They open out my awareness of possibilities and opportunities, and they are loose enough to morph around the best of them.

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