Pleasure or frustration - Set goals so that you will achieve them

Success & Fulfillment

Pleasure or frustration - Set goals so that you will achieve them

Our lives are full of goals. Whether it's to exercise more, lose a few pounds, become more relaxed, spend more time with family or write a book, there's always something on the list. In this article, you'll learn why it makes sense to consciously set goals and what you should keep in mind.

There are many good reasons why it makes sense to set goals. One that is often mentioned is the lack of focus and the resulting waste of energy when you don't have concrete goals. You could also say that without goals you do everything a little bit but nothing right. After all, what are you supposed to decide on, what are you going to align yourself with, if there is no plan and no lighthouse?

This aspect makes sense, but it does not necessarily mean that you should set goals. Perhaps one or the other likes to drift and try out different things and simply accepts the dispersion of one's own energy. However, there is another aspect to consider and this concerns our perception. We scan our environment permanently with our five senses (see, hear, feel, smell and taste). With this flood of impressions it is impossible for us to perceive everything consciously. So our subconscious decides what is important and comes to the surface and what not. Of course, potentially dangerous situations have first priority. But also things that interest us are prioritized and passed on to the conscious perception. This includes our goals, our vision or our focus in life.

To illustrate this, a small example: I am sitting with a friend in a restaurant for lunch. We are having a lively conversation. At the next table, two ladies are also sitting and talking about their last vacation. Whether or not I overhear which vacation destination they are talking about depends on my own goals and focus. If I plan a city trip to Stockholm in the near future, I will notice when Stockholm is mentioned at the next table. If one of my priorities is to take more vacations in general, I will be interested in the topic of vacations. Otherwise, I may not hear anything at all about the conversation at the next table.

This banal example shows that our perception is extremely selective. We do well to tell our subconscious what it should focus on.

Set SMART goals

Probably the most commonly used formula for formulating goals is called SMART. The five letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Appealing, Realistic and Timed. Goals should therefore:

- be formulated as precisely as possible,

- be objectively verifiable,

- be worth striving for,

- be within the bounds of what is considered feasible,

- be provided with a clear date

You can find numerous examples, extensions, new interpretations, pro and contra to this formula on the internet. I still like the formula because it covers quite a lot and is easy to remember. A goal that is formulated SMART is certainly better than one that is neither very specific, nor measurable, nor makes any statement about when the goal should be achieved.

People often quibble with the issue of measurable. However, measurable does not necessarily mean that there has to be a number behind it. Let's take, for example, the goal of becoming more relaxed, which would really be desirable for many people. If I want to make this goal measurable, I have two good options. Either I involve my environment, let them judge my degree of composure initially and ask for regular feedback. Or, and I would definitely recommend this in this case, I feel inside myself and try to localize the restlessness in me and describe it as precisely as possible. Based on this, I can record how I would like to feel and then make my progress measurable.

A few additions I have....

In the coaching technique Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) there is a whole goal-setting protocol that, according to the textbook, is a prerequisite for every coaching process. For example, in addition to the verbal or written formulation, each goal is described with a sensory experience. Describing the sensory experience always means including all senses - that is, seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. The description might look something like this:

"When I reach my destination, I feel liberated. It's as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can move freely. A warm feeling spreads throughout my upper body, starting from my heart. It is golden. I hear a humming. Like someone humming softly with happiness. It smells like rain after a hot summer day."

Describing a feeling in such detail also has the advantage of making it easier to recall. In NLP, this is called an "anchor."

Two more points from the goal setting protocol seem very important to me:

1. use positive phrases

Our brain cannot absorb negations. If someone says to you, please don't think of a lemon, your body automatically reacts with increased saliva production. Negations, i.e. what you don't want right now, are taboo when formulating goals.

2. consider the consequences

Achieving goals always means changing something and therefore affects your own life as well as your relationships with others. Therefore, it is important to think about the possible consequences of your goals and include them in your planning. You want to jog for an hour three times a week? Okay, but then what are you not doing in your already busy life to have the time to do that? You want to quit smoking? Great! But how do you keep in close and important contact with your colleagues at work, with whom you used to smoke on the terrace during the break? You want to develop your career and take on a management position? Great. But is it okay that you'll have less time with your partner or family?

You might think that these are trivial examples and that you think about this anyway when you set goals. But if you simply don't reach a certain goal, it's worth pausing for a moment and feeling inside yourself. Is there maybe a part of you that doesn't want to reach this goal at all because of these consequences? Because always remember, everything you have acquired or got used to in your life was the best possible strategy for you at a certain point in time. The fact that something is changing may not only not suit your circle of friends, but also a part of you that wants everything to continue as usual.

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