Why Successful People Don’t Set Goals

cup to begin - setting goals

And why you shouldn’t set goals either. We all grow up hearing we need to set goals. From when we are kids, we are expected to know what we want to be when we “grow up”. While goal setting in general started out being a motivating factor, it can now (and does) have a negative connotation. God forbid you don’t have a plan in life.

More and more people are setting goals because they think they need to reach a future point. However, not living in the present moment and always living in anxiety of reaching your future goals is a recipe for disaster.

I was, and still am being asked the question of my future goals. And let’s be clear, I am well past my younger years. During the first few years after graduating, I kept hearing people ask me what my goals were. They asked me what my 5-year goals were, 10 years, and life goals. Like, WTF.

I just got out of college, my immediate goal: pay off credit card bills I accrued in college. I continue to hate the question because it causes unnecessary anxiety and stress for me. And I write this to let you know why I think goal setting can be harmful to your sanity, and what you may want to try instead.

1. Recipe for Anxiety

Most people don’t really know what they want to do in life. If you are one of the few people that does, good for you. No really, good for you. However, most of the rest of us do not know exactly what we want from life. In this case, how should we set life long goals? This would just be cause for anxiety. And no one should have anxiety for goals they are trying to acheive in their own lives.

Related post: How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Also, setting a goal like “Own a $1.5 million house by 2020” is a lot of pressure. Also, any goal set for 2020 can just s*ck it! Thanks, covid! Adding a timeline is like saying if you don’t reach a goal by the timeline, then you failed. Oh, why does that sound familiar to me? Oh yes, in my culture if you are not married by your peak child-bearing years, you might as well consider yourself a failure.

2. Passion Killer

Most young adults (and even others) don’t know what they are passionate about. They cannot find their passion if they have set these arbitrary goals that society expects them to set. And then they chase after that. Everyone is entitled to live life on their own terms. As long as you are not dependent, or a liability to someone else. And if you are dependent or a liability, this could then be your first goal, vision, passion to go after i.e. becoming independent. Once you achieve this, no one can dictate you set goals.

3. Setting Wrong Goals

When you are 10 or 20 years old, you really don’t know what life has in store for you. Setting goals is like telling yourself that whatever may come, you know what your target is. So what if at year 4.5 of your 5-year goal, you are a new person and you no longer feel the need for that goal? Did you fail? Or do you have a lifetime goal of moving to England by the time you are 50, and you are 51 and you only moved from your home country to Spain. Did you fail there? No. You merely grew as a person and your focus or life path took you in another direction. What we will hope is that the journey is what you focus on because that’s where joy is. Not in the destination but the journey.

Let’s Break Down the Alternative:

1. Marie Kondo it!

At the beginning of this post I said my goal was to pay off my credit card bills. That was a something I did to get some peace of mind. That was my ultimate goal: Peace of Mind. Chase after what brings you joy. Do like Marie Kondo and have goals that spark joy. Goals that are based on the principles of peace, love, and happiness. One you revolve around those higher “goals”, the rest will line up as task on your journey to get there. An organized life, gives room for more good things and more space to be creative and live a fulfilled life. Read this post on how to organize your life so you have space to become who you are meant to be.

2. Passion

Focus on what you are passionate about. You are unique and have come into this world with unique gifts to share during your time here. It is not the best idea to kill what makes you light up, because what makes you light up is the reason of your existence. Norman Cousins wrote “The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives…”.

Don’t let the dream die inside you. Set your passion as your all-encompassing goal, and take inspired steps in that direction. Every inspired step is a goal achieved.

3. Don’t Set a timeline

That’s all. Don’t set a goal with the pressure of a timeline. Focus on the points above and have a vision of your near term future and take steps to achieve that state of being without the pressure of when you need to get there. One of the easiest ways to focus without goal setting is creating a vision board. See my post about that and how to create one too.

In Conclusion

A lot of kids and young adults always have the pressure of setting goals. Whether it be from your parents or your peers, setting goals shouldn’t be a life requirement. Follow your own pace, and follow your heart. Live in the present moment. Practice some meditation and ground yourself, and take one step at a time. The rest will fall into place.

Featured photo courtesy of pexels.com

Article last updated on September 21st, 2021

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