Goals and why you shouldn’t set them

Can this be right? No, surely not. Every inspirational-cum-leader-guru-self-help-The-Secret-and-other-such-cackery tells us that the key to success (whatever that may mean, usually undefined, but often referring only to monetary gain) is to set goals.

Having given this a lot of thought and reflection, I’ve long reached the decision that the setting of goals is pointless.

I’m currently writing a book on performing and have been contemplating the effects that goal-setting, or rather the lack of it, has affected my life. Whilst I wont go into the depth I will in the book (shameless plug, although it won’t be available until sometime 2018) it’s enough to say that I think goal-setting is pointless as it is currently understood in our society.

We all want everything instantly. We want a six-pack in days. We want a pill to get rid of our back ache right now. We want instant gratification. Want to be famous? Simply go on a TV talent show. Want to be a magician? Jump on YouTube and learn.

But long term mastery of a subject, art or career is something that will take time, effort and dedication. Setting a goal to be, for example, a kung-fu expert is only going to mean you don’t truly reach the goal. And the end result? One of feeling like a failure (whatever that means, usually undefined, but often referring to not having made considerable monetary gain).

So, if you really must set a goal, then put it in a realistic time-frame. E.g. something you will master over the next 20-30 years. Suddenly that’s not as promising as the self-help books would have us believe. Hence the fat folks still carry on trying to lose weight year-upon-year, the employed folks try to become their own boss and the gym is full of wannabe weight lifters who stop going after the first week or two.

Mastering anything takes a lifetime.

For me there’s another, bigger down-side to goal setting and I’ll come on to that in a future rambling.

For now, do you set goals and if so why? Sounds a daft question, but setting them to achieve something usually has the opposite effect; we rarely achieve what we set out to and so feel deflated. What was the point then?

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