Goal setting seems to have become a given for any kind of success. Sayings like “If you fail to plan you plan to fail” ring out around corporate corridors. The idea that we must have a concrete target in sight is the abc of business. Surely we need an aim, an ambition, an end to work towards? Otherwise wouldn’t we be running around like chickens with our heads cut off?

A life of chaos and disorder is surely the result of not setting goals.

Well maybe not.

It’s almost blasphemy to say that goal setting is perhaps a limiting and outdated way of working. I have been a big goal setter in my life and it has taken many years of experience and trying something different for me to realise that there are some inherent problems with the goal setting system.

Goals can be:

1. Rigid
Because a goal is fixed, success is dependant on it being reached and ticked off the list. There is little room for life, change, or transformation, all of which happen on a daily basis. The inflexibility of goals can mean that much time and resource is wasted in following a direction which turns out to be erroneous in the end.

2. Limited
When I set a goal initially, I am usually setting something that is a challenge to be reached in the future. But what if there is another outcome that would be even better or outside the square which I cannot even comprehend yet? I have limited myself to this restricted, constrained version.

3. Costly

If the only success is to reach the goal, it is possible for me to push myself inappropriately trying and trying to get to this end point. If not reaching the goal equals failure, then I must be a loser if I don’t get there. Overworking, and neglecting others is a sure sign that this is the case. Do I really want to reach my goal at any cost?

Goal setting can also be another way of giving myself a hard time for not “achieving”.

I find it much more fulfilling to do what I am doing to the best of my ability and see where it leads me.

New information comes in daily and can lead me to the next adventure if I am willing to pay attention.

This doesn’t mean I don’t make plans or lists – I love lists, it just means that they are flexible, open, and elastic. They will be reviewed, revisited, revised, re-evaluated, and reconsidered depending on the changes, circumstances, and conditions that are in my life today.

Mandy Galbraith

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