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Don't set specific goals

Don't set a Specific Goal - Here's What to Do Instead

Setting a specific goal for yourself will only disappoint you. Our expectations of how something will go can become so ingrained in our goals that we begin to see only that version of the future as a measure of success.

What that does is take us away from noticing all of the small successes along the way. In addition, you have a hard time adjusting to new things that happen that you were not anticipating. 

Here’s what you should do instead.

Get to Know Yourself

Before setting any type of goal, you should have a basic to solid understanding of yourself. You do this by exploring your core values, how you would like to show up, have a vision of the highest version of yourself, and know how to trust yourself.

The reason you should do this is to help you stay on a path toward a future that you would like to happen. Knowing yourself will help you to understand WHY you want to get to a particular goal. As you dig in, you will really know if this goal is for you.

Set the Goal and Let Go of Attachment

Instead of a specific goal (I know this goes against what our capitalistic society pushes) set a vision for a potential future. 

Consider what you would LIKE to pass, but know that this is just one potential of many. In fact, there are an infinite number of ways this vision could turn out. After laying out the specifics, see it, but be ready for even better results.

In Buddhist tradition, the concept of non-attachment explains that it is our attachment to people, things, outcomes, and all manner of things that causes us pain and suffering. When it comes to goals, we get so attached to the outcome that if it goes any differently than we imagine, we will be disappointed and miss the journey along the way.

Simply put: just set the goal and allow the journey and surprises along the way bring you joy.

Learn Lessons and Course Correct

As you progress towards a goal, life will throw a lot of different situations at you. These situations will test your true desire to reach this goal and will help you see what new struggles you might have if you attain this goal.

Let’s use the example of fame: you set a goal to become a famous rockstar. You create the vision and start to head on that path. 

While working on this goal you get a little taste of fame and you find yourself surrounded by new friends. It feels great! But then, your life takes a dip and you suddenly have a failure. Your new friends abandon you, but some of your true friends stick by and keep encouraging you.

In this (very simple) scenario, you are learning that fame might come with some fake friends. At this point you have to learn a new lesson about who you will allow into your circle if you stay on this path. If this causes you stress, you might want to change your path. 

THERE IS NO SHAME IN CHANGING YOUR PATH. Instead, LEARN. Learn about yourself, learn about others, learn the lessons life wants to teach you and reorient.

Goals are Dreams

Overall, remember that your goal is a dream. You are a human who can only imagine this dream so far. If you are a person of faith (any faith), trust that your higher power knows WAY MORE than you and can come up with something aligned with your dream, but better. If you are too focused on a specific outcome, you might not see all the things that are better than that outcome around you waiting to be experienced and noticed.

Dr. Autumn Thomas

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