4 reasons why I don't set goals
Most people assume that, since I am a life coach, I have a list of goals that I want to achieve, and that my work with clients is all about helping them to achieve theirs.
Indeed, during my life coaching training the emphasis was on how to help people identify their goal and brainstorm ways to get there. But for some reason this model of coaching just didn’t work for me (now my coaching approach is to focus on mindset as opposed to goals).
That said, I did used to set goals, yes. But not anymore. Which may come as a relief to some people, as I know there are lots of people out there who say ‘I just don’t have any goals! Is that a bad thing??’
No, it’s not. Here’s 4 reasons why I don’t set goals, nor encourage my clients to:
1) Goals are arbitrary
I realised that most of my goals were pretty arbitrary, meaning I’d picked them out of thin air and chosen them either because they made nice round numbers or because I thought it’d give me some kind of cool status.
For example, I used to have a goal that was ‘travel to 40 countries by the time I am 30’ (I’m on 37 countries and I’ve got 3 months left!) It meant that I used to find myself trying to plan trips that quite frankly, didn’t fit with my other life-plans just for no other reason than the sake of being able to say ‘I’d been to 40 countries by the time I was 30!’
Not only is the number 40 meaningless, but the age 30 is even more meaningless! Why 40, and why not 45? Why 30, and not 29? Just because it sounds cool? No thanks.
2) Goals miss the point
Carrying on with my travel goal example, setting goals like this can shift the focus from the point of why you’re doing it in the first place. I mean, focusing on the desire to get to 40 countries by the time I’m 30 could easily be done, simply by booking myself onto cheap flights, staying for a day and flying out again. But that misses the point. What I really want is to travel the world and experience lots of places, actually visit there and enjoy time, which is COMPLETELY overlooked by that goal. You know, am I going to be disappointed if I only visit 39 by the time the big 3-0 comes around? With a goal like that, probably, yes!
3) Goals can lead to obsession
I will give you 2 examples:
1. I used to have goals for my weight. I became SO obsessed with trying to reach it that I had a RIDICULOUSLY unhealthy relationship with food. I would count EVERY. SINGLE. CALORIE. I would think about food every minute of the day. I would even try to starve myself so that I could reach my goal… and then end up completely binging out on over 2000 calories in one go, just unable to stop eating. Which, only lead me further away from my goal!
2. In the early days of running my business I had specific revenue targets. I would become SO obsessed with trying to earn that amount of money, that, just like with weight goals, the opposite happened – I struggled to create clients! People can just tell when all you’re interested in is getting money out of them, and it makes them run a mile.
4. Goals are momentary, tick-box accomplishments
You work hard. You reach a goal. You tick it off. Yay! Now what? Next goal please! We just keep on walking on that hedonistic treadmill, delaying happiness until the next accomplishment, and then you die. Is that really what life is supposed to be all about?
So since I no longer set goals, here’s what I do instead:
I create visions for the different areas of my life that are important to me.
Visions are not achievements per se, rather an idea of how you want your life to be in general. Where do you want to be living? How do you want to be spending your time? What would you like your life to be about?
Here are just some snippets of my visions:
Career: to have a successful coaching business, with clients I love, where I make a transformational difference to others, and can work from anywhere in the world
Finance: be financially free
Hobbies: living in Spain, with a dog, regularly attending music events
Travel: regular worldwide travel
Health: vegan diet, strong, healthy etc.
Visions are different to goals because:
1) Visions are meaningful.
There are reasons why I want my life to be a certain way. For example, one of my visions is to have a business that is fully online (which it is) – there’s nothing arbitrary about that – having an online business means I can fulfil my other vision – to travel the world – which I want to do because I want to make the most out of my time on earth and embrace different cultures.
2) Visions ARE the point.
Using my travelling example, the point is to travel the world, and so is my vision!
3) Visions create results that happen naturally.
My vision is to be a transformational difference to others. Which means that as long as I am doing that, any business and revenue goals that I would have had, naturally start to get accomplished by themselves. When I shifted my goal from ‘make money’ to a vision of ‘make a difference’, sure enough, the clients came. Likewise with food and weight, it was only when I stopped chasing the goal, and totally forgot about it, that I just naturally lost weight and got into the best shape I’ve ever been in.
4) Visions are a way of life, that you can enjoy along the way.
For example, I love to weight-train. And instead of only being happy when I achieve a certain strength goal, my vision is to be strong and getting stronger. Which means as long as I am working out, I am happy, no matter what my strength is! No delayed, temporary gratification – just satisfaction right here, right now (and still progressing!)
What visions do you have for your life? If you’re not sure, you can use my free download called the Love Life Plan to help you map it out.