Instead of setting goals this year. . .


goal settingDo you like setting goals? I never have, although I’ve set plenty of them. I been a goal-setter for most of my life. I’ve studied goal setting, trained and written articles on goal setting, and know quite about the right and wrong ways to go about it.

After all, goal setting is a key to success, isn’t it? “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will know when you get there?”–that sort of thing. So every year, I set aside time to write my goals for the coming year.

But I never liked it.

I never liked the chore of crafting the right goal. Too many variables.

I never liked the deadlines for reaching those goals. Too much pressure.

And I never liked not reaching my goals. Too much disappointment.

Looking back at decades of goal setting, I can honestly say that formal goal setting has not helped me achieve more, or made my life any better. It’s only made me anxious.

That’s not to say I don’t have goals, I do. I know what I want and I like thinking about it and working towards it. I like achieving those goals and setting new ones. No, goals are a good thing and I’m not giving up on them. What I am questioning is the efficacy of the formal goal setting process.

I know many people who have been successful using a formal process. Maybe they’re built differently. Maybe they thrive when the pressure is on and the days are counting down. Me? Not so much.

So instead of setting formal goals this coming year, with specific details and deadlines and metrics and such, I’m going to be much more relaxed about everything. I know what I want to do this year, or at least the direction I want to go, and I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in that direction.

How will I know when I get there? I don’t know, I might not, and that’s just fine. Because the goal really isn’t the point. What’s important is being happy, and as long as there is a smile on my face, I know I’m doing  just fine.



  1. Clint Kelley says


    You might be onto something here. For me there are two problems with setting goals. The first problem is committing to the plan at the outset. What if I change my mind and want to go in a different direction? This is not too many steps away from “why set goals in the first place?”

    The second problem involves realistic projections as a metric for success. Do I base it on money I need on a monthly basis (conservative approach) or what I actually would like to earn (pie-in-the-sky approach)? Not being able to nail down a concrete projection can keep me tied to the fence instead of racing around the track.

    Your more relaxed approach my be the way to go. I am moving forward, generally speaking, toward my goals, so why not have fun along the way? I will think about it this week and see how it fits in with my planning process.

    Thanks again for the thought-provoking post.