Personal growth

Why Goal Setting Is Terrible

By March 28, 2015 No Comments

We are three months into 2015.  So, how are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions?  Go ahead, dust off the journal and read them out loud.  But don’t stop reading this blog just because we found an area you might have failed.  I didn’t even set New Year’s resolutions because I don’t believe in goal setting.  Let me tell tell you why.

Did recording those goals in your journal, telling your spouse, and posting your resolution on social media actually help you accomplish them?  Of course not.

We are deceived into believing that setting goals is beneficial, when in actuality they can be self destructive to your psyche if you don’t implement the process that will get you there.

If you should not set goals, what should you focus on?  Let’s take a look…

1. Setting a goal doesn’t help you get there, putting processes in place will help you accomplish a goal.

Everyone wants to improve the quality of their life but very few will commit to putting disciplines in place to accomplish the goal.  We are unwilling to pay the price for the gains we desire  So we are content to beat ourselves up for poor practices, while we eat another Krispy Kreme and watch Oprah reruns.  Here is a list of common goals, and I’ve added a basic process that could accomplish the goal.

Goal                                              Process

Lose 10 pounds.                        Work out four times a week for 30 minutes

I want to save $10,000               Set a fixed amount to save and set an auto draft

Grow my business 20%             Contact 25 potential new clients a week

I want to read the entire Bible.   Schedule daily time to study for 30 min.

Goals do not bring results, processes do. You can hunger for it, read about it, receive guidance for it, but you have to put the process in place to achieve results or you will remain the same.

As the old saying goes, “change isn’t change until there is change.”

2. Goals don’t help you maintain.  We quit when we reach the goal, or eventually our goals become so lofty that we can’t achieve them, so we quit.

My wife set a goal to run a marathon when she turned 40, and she did it!  She’s quite driven and has an incredible amount of self discipline.  But when the marathon was over, she hung up her running shoes for nearly two years… Until we began to focus on “lifestyle direction” rather than goal setting.

We need a process not a project.  We need a shift in lifestyle or a change in culture, not a goal.  Understanding what course you want to be on in life, and the results it will achieve, are incredibly powerful.  Setting goals, like projects, will at best achieve short term results.

Lets revisit the list and look at it through the lens of culture change rather than goal setting.

Culture Change.                           Process

Improve my physical health.         Work out four times a week for 30 minutes with a trainer

Increase cash reserves.                Save 10% of profit or income, and set and auto draft

Implement a growth strategy        Contact 25 potential clinets a week, get a mentor

Improve my spiritual health.          Schedule daily time to study and pray with your wife for 30 min.

You won’t improve your spiritual life by visiting a church once or twice a year, but you will if you commit to going once a week, every week.  You won’t save money if you have good intentions of parking your quarterly bonus in your IRA, but you will if you auto draft your account for 10% every time you get paid.  You won’t consistently grow your business sales by visiting a trade show, but you will if you are calling and visiting a quantifiable number of potential clients each week.

What makes a good process?

1. A process must be quantifiable.  It must have certain “investments” of time, money, energy, mental focus, etc.

2. A process must be a regular occurring event, every day or every few days.

3. A process is different than a project.  A project has a beginning and an end; like putting a new roof on your house, a trade show you attend for business, or only going to church just at Christmas and Easter.  A process is perpetual, and it only changes when you find ways to improve it’s results.

4. A process must have real accountability!  You will notice I listed things like; a personal trainer, an auto debit, in the second list.  Without real accountability, your isolation will break down your self discipline.

5. Celebrate progress!  You’ve got to measure and reward progress.  Goals can create unnecessary stress when we hit unexpected problems that slow our progress.  When we don’t set the goal but we do set the process, progress is inevitable.  And with all progress should come a celebration and reward.  Measuring progress and celebrating it, is much better than setting a goal and missing it.

6. Where do I start?  I reccomend you identify the biggest area of failure, and implementing process for change, in just that one area. When you move from getting traction to building momentum, you can add a second process in a seperate area.

7. Plajorize!  Find someone who has a process that produces the results you want in your area of desire and copy it.

I don’t ever focus on goals.  I don’t set an objective based on time or quantity. I set a direction and then a process that will improve the quality of my life.

With my last business, the economy collapsed overnight and we had the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Our business decreased by 60% overnight.  For the first time in my career we were losing money.   It’s was highly stressful as we slashed overhead and simultaneously moved into new markets to build sales.  I kept setting goals for where I wanted to be, and each month when we didn’t achieve them, it was depressing.

The venture capital firm that bought us, kept me on to run the company.  The board of directors would encourage me, saying “don’t focus on the numbers, just focus on the process.  The right process will correct the numbers, period.”

They were correct!