7 Reasons People Are Cynical About Goals (and How to Move On)

When I bring up the topic of setting goals, I typically get two responses. Some individuals are excited and want to learn more. Other people trip over themselves running for the Exit doors.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com (edited with Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com (edited with Canva)

Most people have set goals and new year resolutions at some time in their life and have had varying degrees of success…and a lot of failures. Perhaps you’ve set goals such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Getting a new job
  • Starting a new business
  • Getting out of debt
  • Achieving business goals
  • Improving relationships
  • Winning a sports season
  • Learning a musical instrument

We’ve all heard how goals can help us. Why is it that goals work for some people and do not for other people? Why are people skeptical about goals? I believe most of the resistance is rooted in faulty thinking about goals.

Why People Resist Goals

Let’s look at common reasons people avoid goals. How can we achieve our dreams? What can we do to move from our current state to the desired future state?

  1. We have tried goals and found the process useless. People are quick to discount goals by saying they’ve tried it, and it does not work for them. This is an easy out. Perhaps this thought is nothing more than an excuse…a way to avoid setting goals.
  2. We don’t like the feeling of anxiety. Have you ever set goals, felt a sense of energy, and later felt a gnawing sense of worry? We start thinking about all the reasons we may not reach our goal. The goals become a weight on our shoulders rather than an enabler.
  3. We are afraid of failure. Let’s assume you are about to take a difficult class. At the last minute, you told the professor that you are going to drop the class because you don’t think you can pass. What if the professor guaranteed you an “A” before you started the class? How would you feel about the class? You would likely relax and perform at your highest level. I know this sounds odd but chill…Give yourself an A on your goals. Do your best. If you fail (and we all do from time to time), look at the event as an opportunity to learn.
  4. We don’t like feeling boxed in. Some people feel setting goals constrains them or traps them. They think of the goal as a jail cell. Individuals may also think their goals can never change. Let’s face the fact – we set goals with limited information and a certain level of uncertainty. Give yourself a break. Set your goals. Evaluate them as you gain additional information. Adjust the goals where it makes sense.
  5. We are burned out. Think about your emotional state. Have you recently lost a loved one? Have you discovered difficult news? Have you recently completed a long-term challenging project? Consider these factors when setting your goals. Be sure to establish your priorities and margin in your life. We all need time to recuperate and recharge our batteries.
  6. We’ve set goals that were unrealistic. We’ve mentioned people trying goals and failing and thinking the goal process is a waste of time. One of the reasons this occurs is that people set goals that are totally unrealistic. Setting unrealistic goals is a mistake. I am all for setting goals that will challenge us, but let’s make sure we set achievable goals. Achieving goals will spur us on to set additional goals or to amp up our current goals.
  7. We don’t know how to set goals. You can do this! It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here are some tips to simplify the goal setting process: How to Write Clear Goals and How to Write SMART Goals.

Time to Ride Again

Tried goals before? Didn’t reach your goal? That’s okay. Get back in the saddle again.

Draft your goals. Share your goals with a couple of trusted friends who will encourage you. Ask them for their insights. Sharing your goals with a few trusted friends will provide great feedback and provide some level of healthy accountability.

Establish your plans. Be diligent. Revise your goals when needed. The best is yet to come!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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