Then once you’ve got your answer, follow up with “How do I get there?”.
You don’t need to have a goal, but if you don’t know what you want, how will you achieve anything?
If you’re still not excited at the thought of setting goals, don’t. Try coming up with your own system. James Altucher offers an excellent alternative to goals:
“Instead of having a goal: “I need to make money”, I switch to a theme: “I want to help people with this product”. Or…”Forget about money completely. I want to help people by writing a blog about honesty, failure, myself, entrepreneurship, and whatever else I can write that people will relate to.”
You can read his full post here: I Need a Check For One Million Dollars.
His method has helped me tremendously in navigating the feelings of stress that comes with working through the process of getting what I want.
Just like death and taxes, disappointment pretty much is a given in life. It’s something everyone has to deal with over and over again. I used to work in a lab as a student researcher, where everyone worked with passion and excitement despite knowing that research is 99% failure, 1% success. The important thing is how you deal with these disappointments. You can look at them as reasons to stop trying, or you can look at them as lessons, so you can approach the same situation from a different point of view when one way doesn’t work out.
Yes, goals can be restricting, but again, this depends on how you look at them. You can look at goals as rules that confine you, or as ways to give your hopes and dreams structure, so you know what steps to take to get from A to B. Without structure, many of us end up confused and lost. Depending on willpower to accomplish something may work for awhile, but it’s a finite source. You will run out of it eventually.
On the other hand, fluidity or ‘going with the flow’ is important in any given situation. You need to be able to adapt when your environment calls for it. Without fluidity, you’ll risk being left behind, or being broken. So yes, going with the flow is fine, provided you have some form of structure to guide you. The type of structure you build is up to you.
Unlike disappointment, the future is not guaranteed, as you have said. But if it were guaranteed, why would anyone bother trying? If I new I’d get a check for a million dollars every month, why would I bother coming up with new business ideas, or turning up at my bootcamp to coach my clients? I turn up because I want the them start off and end their days on a great note. I also want them to be fit enough to handle the stresses of every-day life. That 1% success in the science lab? It could make up just 1% of the entire research project. A 100% success rate is not guaranteed, but everyone keeps going anyway, because they want to find a cure for cancer.
Something is a waste of time only if you think it is. If it takes you away from what you really want, yes it could be unnecessary. Or it could be a detour that refreshes your perspective on life.
How do you set goals without setting yourself up for disappointment? Start with small steps you can take that will lead you in the direction you want to go. Eventually, you’ll be able to take bigger steps. If you end up disappointed, decide which steps took you to a bad turn, so you can learn from them to keep moving towards your goal.
***Originally posted in Quora
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