Goal Setting: How It Can Actually Hurt You
“If you keep your products superior and never diminish your quality, you will remain strong through obstacles.”
I bet you woke up this morning, putting down a to-do list on a piece of scratch paper, ready to punch the day in the junk, right? WAIT! Before you set out to make and keep a list of daily resolutions for you and yours, put this in your noggin: Research shows that goals often do more harm than good.
You ever come across those managers who never seem to set goals, but they’re the first ones speaking doom on those who don’t make their goals themselves?
Do these goals really work? Again, research collaborated to show that in many cases, goals do more harm than good. What’s even worse, they can put some long-term damage to organizations and others using them. Some of these side-effects made by goal setting include rises in unethical behavior, overthinking and focus on one area while neglecting other parts that needs attention (don’t we all?), the breaking down of culture in your group or yourself, and reduced motivation.
I can attest fully to the reduction of motivation.
Yet, if you use goals wisely, they can inspire others to boost their performance, as we all authors can agree. BUT, before you go trying to find feasible goals, they must be prescribed in doses, not as the gold standard. Some people even offer warning labels, and some have questions to ask yourself before you start to set goals.
There are many ways to find motivation, such as listening to music, reading, working akin to our thoughts, and more. Read some about it here!
Whether we think of it or not, a lot of us can agree that adopting a small habit can change us. The aspect of productivity promises us that if we make this small change, everything else will fall in line. We usually lay it out like, “first change through habits, start off small, and those small things snowball into bigger changes.”
Yet, change, at least the big, lasting meaningful kind, they don’t usually come from small habits. Why, you might ask? Switching up habits and setting goals are the lowest factors when it comes to transforming behavior. They’ll get you moving, but I doubt your destination will be where you want to end up.
And we’re back to setting goals. They might even stop you from reaching that ultimate goal you’re shooting for. In fact, it’ll become a barrier. We only set goals after bad things happen.
The goals we tend to set usually follow after a negative event in our lives. They’re suddenly self-improvement projects we adopt in reaction to something we know has gone wrong. So often, when we take up a new habit, that event being so fresh in our mind continues to exert influence, acting as a behavior meter which forces us to stop or do something. Put a little distance from the negativity and learn how to deal with it as best you can, and the stick stops hurting.
For ways to deal with negativity, check out these ads!
I know you get tired of seeing those end of December “Resolution” posts.
It doesn’t help that many of us set expectations that are high as the sky. Rather than a feasible goal, we try to jump tens of hurdles when we should focus on one. Instead of trying to write 500 words a day, we expect to write an entire novel in a month (without going insane, mind you), and then expect to get it published. Not only do we expect our goals to change our lives, we expect them to change others’ perception of us.
In closing, goal setting is itself a habit, and it’s one we’d do well to abandon. Sure, there are better and worse ways to set goals. But no individual goal you can possibly set is likely to truly change your life off the bat. Without a shift in your thought process, you’ll make progress for a designated time period, but you’re likely to relapse.
Don’t think what you’d like to do differently or how you’d like to switch things. Consider what’s already near and dear to you – there’s where you start. That shifts your focus from behavioral towards a deeper realm of being. Intrinsic goals like being accepted don’t have obvious behavioral allegories. Those sorts of goals are in your head, right where they should be; long-term change begins with your thinking, not action.
Shakyra Dunn, fantasy author, can’t stray away from the impression that there is always an adventure around every corner! When she isn’t playing the role of the Creator, she is marching through the worlds of her favorite video game characters or taking drives around her city to see the sights. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, striving to experience more than the little town.