I am often asked if I engage in the practice of goal setting. I usually answer that I don't. I have tried that in the past and it didn't work for me.
It recently became clear to me that I do set goals, but there is a difference between what most who teach "goal setting" tell you to do and what I have found that works.
Let's cover what I found doesn't work. Here is an example of what absolutely doesn't work for me:
"I am going to lose 20 pounds by December 1st."
That's the standard way many folks teach to set goals. Why doesn't that work for me? There are a lot of reasons:
1. It puts the goal "out there"... it sets me up for procrastination. I don't worry about it until right before December 1st.
2. If I lost 15 pounds, I feel like a failure. Even though I lost 15 pounds (which should be great), I didn't meet my goal, so I failed. It discourages me from setting more goals.
3. If I lost 25 pounds, I feel like rewarding myself for doing really well... perhaps by going out to eat. It also sets me up for failure next time I set a goal. My mind remembers when I overshot my goal and how easy it was, so I don't try as hard the next time.
So what can we do instead. There are no time limits for any "goal" in my notebook. There is also no pressure. It is simply a list of things that I want to be... only it is listed in present tense. The way the above would be written in my notebook is:
"I am thin, healthy and attractive."
It doesn't have to happen by December 1st. There is no way for me to fail. That is what I want. It is what I'm going to get. By writing it down, I start my mind to working towards that goal. I also believe it notifies God (the universe, your higher power, your higher self, whatever you believe... it doesn't matter for this purpose) of my desires and He helps deliver them. It takes some of the arrogance out of the equation (that belief that I can do it myself) and at the same time takes away the self-beating (what happens when you don't meet a goal).
In the end, it frees me to give my everything to that goal without reservation. I run as fast as I can... and then I rest. I live life as hard and fast and as passionately as I can... and then I rest just as hard and passionately. There is no "reckoning" day... there is only living.
I find this method a lot more productive than the standard "goal setting" methodology. I encourage you to give it a try.