The beginning of the year is the perfect time to set new goals and review existing goals. I am currently reviewing my 2012 goals and creating new goals that are important to me and my family. All my goals will no longer make me miserable. What I mean by this is that if a goal makes me miserable as I approach my destination, then it is not really a goal worth having. I want to feel good more than I want to check accomplishments off my list. I want to feel good more than I want to please other people. I want to feel good more than I need to look good.
The journey toward the goal is really the important part, because a goal should cause you to change your behaviors in a way that genuinely leads you to a better, more fulfilling place in your life. The idea of goal-setting is not the problem. The problem is that if you set unrealistic goals, or goals that are based on what other people want, not you, it becomes difficult to achieve your goal because the motivation is external. If you’re doing something solely to please someone else or even just to match what someone else has, you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time achieving that goal. Every step is going to seem like misery and, if you don’t quit along the way, you’re going to not even enjoy achieving the goal because it didn’t really mean anything to you.
Successful goals are internal goals. An ideal goal is one that you would still want to achieve in the absence of other people in your life, because such a goal is driven entirely by internal motivations. You want success for yourself, not because of what others have and not because you hope to change what others think of you. When you adopt an internally-driven goal, every single positive step feels like a great success and the sacrifice feels worth it. I find failure when the goals involve matching what others have done or simply chasing the expectations of others. I find success when I work toward things solely for myself.
The real key to goal success for me is figuring out what it is that drives me internally and tapping into that. If I do that well, achieving my goals becomes something incredibly rewarding, not something that’s a punishing slog. What drives you? What do you feel compelled to do? What do you feel personally responsible for? What things bring you strong pleasure and joy? Figure those out and you’re going to be halfway toward figuring out life-affirming goals that take you to a better place.