Have you been caught in this trap? You set goals that you think you should have or that other people would want you to have. And then you can’t work out why you’re not happy when you achieve them?
You might have heard that saying “I climbed the ladder to success but it was against the wrong wall.” That’s what can happen when we don’t set the right goals for ourselves.
So how do we tell what’s what?
1. First of all, we want to set goals that are our life’s dream. Yep, that’s right. It seems pretty obvious but a lot of us base our goals on what other people want. Maybe it’s what we see in the media, what we’re told, what our family wants for us. But it’s not what we want.
Maybe the media says being rich and beautiful are the only goals to have. If you aim for this but you really want to be a loving, fabulous parent then you probably won’t be happy or fulfilled if you’re desperately pursuing the goal of a perfect body you can slide into a BMW.
2. We also want to make sure that our goals are ‘intrinsically rewarding’ which means they mean something to you on the inside. When they’re intrinsically rewarding you can sit back and feel complete at the end of them. You might have the desire to move onto something else at the end of them but there’s not that ‘never satisfied’ feeling that comes from striving for goals that are externally based.
External or ‘extrinsically’ based goals like making more money, buying a new car, seeking power or fame do not usually bring lasting happiness or satisfaction. They’re usually based around working hard to achieve a reward at the end. Or they’re fear based and have the aim of avoiding something bad – shame or loss of income/status/approval.
Sounds like I don’t think much of extrinsically based goals doesn’t it? Not really. There are some people who can make these goals work for them. Look at Richard Branson. He’s turned making money into something that is intrinsically rewarding. His No1 question that gives a yes or no for starting a new business venture is “will this be fun?” He makes the journey the good bit – so his extrinsic goals are really intrinsically based.
If you have extrinsically based goals ask yourself if they’re fear based. And if they are ask yourself how you can turn it around so your goal can incorporate an intrinsic aspect. So that it can be personally meaningful to you.
For example, I have the goal of making enough money to have a really enjoyable and fun life. How I’m doing that is by providing a service to others that will help them feel better about themselves AND it’s my passion.
Looking at your goals from this angle will make them more rewarding, you will enjoy the journey there, and you’re likely to be happier once you’ve achieved them.
See if you can work out if your goals are authentic to you and whether they’re intrinsically or extrinsically based. That way you can make them more rewarding to achieve and more fun to pursue.