I love a good goal. They’re motivating and inspiring. And…they’re often also a total buzz kill.
What? Yup…let me explain.
Have you ever reached a goal only to feel a looming sense of underwhelm and thought to yourself … huh, now what?!
Yeah, me too! And a lot of other people too! #human
In fact, this is such a common experience that I wrote about it in my book The Elephant in the Gym. I talked about how for some people setting goals is one of the biggest roadblocks to success!
Say what? Yup. Which is why I gave this nugget of advice:
“Ditch the goals, and define your practice.”
Here’s the thing. It’s easy to get caught up in a goal. The excitement of that day off in your future. The anticipation of not knowing how you’ll feel and how it will all go. It’s sexy and exciting.
But here’s the other thing…sexy and exciting goals can be motivating…but sometimes (ok, a LOT of the time) we put WAY to much pressure on that far off future-self. We get attached to this notion that when this happens/ when I reach my goal…then….xyz will fall into place/ I’ll be magically happy/ I’ll feel fulfilled.
The kicker is that while goals can have merit…the attachment to goals often simply sets us up for disappointment.
Because who you are on the other side of the goal isn’t about ONE magical day or event…it’s about who you become in the process.
We put so much weight on the “event” of goal achievement – we forget that nearly all the benefit comes from the process and practice of getting “there.”
So, how can you shift the process to the practice and become less attached to your goals?
It’s about honing in on what’s behind the goal and what’s really in it for you.
Let me walk you through a more concrete example.
I love to run. I love training for and preparing for running events. I love how an event gives my running focus and intention. It helps me honour my commitment to running. But the end of the day – I run for the joy of running. I run for the community and connection it brings to my life. I run because I love the way it makes my body and mind feel.
Recently I had to make the tough decision NOT to participate in an event I’d trained 18-weeks for. Was I sad, sure. I’d been looking forward to the event for 18-weeks! But I knew that I’d done the work, I’d actually put in the time. And I’d garnered all the benefit of the event, purely by doing the work.
How to hone in on what’s behind the goal…so you can stay connected to the practice.
- When you have a goal in mind ask yourself – what inspires me about doing this?
- Keep asking why to deepen your inquiry until you reach the “clunk” – the deeper more emotional reason behind it (you’ll know when you get there).
- Then consider, if I do all the work to get to this goal, then something happens, would that be ok? Would I still feel accomplished (even if I’m disappointed)?
As you embark on the process and practice of getting “there” take regular pit-stops to check in and make sure you’re still connected to the deeper reason. And be proud of who you are and what you’re doing every step of the way.