Because most of the people will want to call BS on this, I figured I’d cite some of the sources I found to back-up my experience. I won’t say that this works for everyone, but it sure has for me. Either way, there’s something to it!
Forbes – The Most Successful People Don’t Set Goals — They Do This Instead
James Clear – Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.
Research Gate – When Goals are Counterproductive
Brain Pickings – Stop Overplanning: The Psychology of Why Excessive Goal-Setting Limits Our Happiness and Success
Goals, Goals, Goals
If you are like me, the thought of setting goals makes you want to run to Alaska and bury your head in the snow. And I HATE the cold.
It’s almost literally like you are sticking a needle in my eye. Painful, annoying, and I just can’t see the point. Bu-dum-dum. But yet I still have been successful in my career, so what gives?
Story Time with Goals
My favorite story of clearly lacking goals, was when I hired a running coach. I had about 5 or 10 half marathons under my belt and wanted to be better. So when my new coach asked me – what’s your goal for running – To see how many half marathons you can run a year? Running a full marathon or ultra? Losing weight or getting in shape?
I wasn’t sure how to answer. I just didn’t want to be at the back of the pack and risk being the last to cross the finish line. I enjoyed running and just wanted to improve. Telling her that, was clearly not what she wanted to hear.
Another good story of this relates directly to the business world. I have had a few people ask – what’s the goal for my blog – Ms. Category Management? Do you have a business plan? Well no. I didn’t know I needed one.
Honestly, I’m just happy people read it! I mean hopefully one day I’ll be able to make some money from it and maybe gain a little exposure, but who knows. And despite the lack of goals, the blog still has been successful.
You may ask – how do I know I have been successful when I haven’t set any goals? Since to some, I’m steering a ship into the sea with zero direction? Well, let me tell you. Because I haven’t set goals, I’ve been able to accept opportunities that range from consulting to interviews, webinars, speaking events, networking, etc. Things I never could or would have expected, but were amazing successes stemming from the creation of the blog.
Things that I may have pushed away if my goal was extremely specific like – 100 posts and 1,000 followers a year. I just wouldn’t have had the time to be open to the opportunities. I would have missed out on a ton of cool stuff. And that’s part of the reason why I think it’s okay not to force yourself to create goals.
Why It’s OK to not have Clear Goals
So what’s my rationale in all of this?
First, it doesn’t allow you to be open to exploring new ideas. If you are too focused on the end goal, you’ll never let your mind wander. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m passionate about something, I’ll push full force in one direction.
Not to mention, when/if I get sidetracked, I’m okay with it and don’t stress out. I actually welcome the opportunity. We all know that things are going to get side-railed at some point, so why not embrace it?
Now don’t get me wrong. I still think I have a clear picture in my mind (directionally) where I’d like to go. So maybe you could say it’s written in my mind. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t constantly changing and evolving. Call it a moving target if you like, but I have some idea of where I’d like to go.
That’s why I believe not knowing exactly how you are getting there, is the fun part of life. I get to celebrate the unknown wins. To me it’s like a kid opening up a surprise birthday present, it’s just so much more exciting not knowing. Not to mention, I’m getting ice cream tonight for my latest unexpected win, are you? Or are you stressed out it didn’t go according to plan?!
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