How can I set goals if I don't know what I want?

10.10.2012

You and I know how important it is to have goals. Without goals, there is a real risk of getting distracted, of spending time in activities that have little or no value and of never experiencing a proper feeling of achievement.

You probably know as well as I do, that writing down your goals is more powerful than simply thinking about them. There is a commitment that arises from writing down your goals. Unwritten goals are just ideas, dreams, wishes.

And that’s all fine, as long as you know what you want. Have you ever found yourself wondering what your goals are? Not because you haven’t thought about them, but because you haven’t got anything in mind that you want to commit to, that you’re excited about doing, or that looks like a meaningful challenge.

It happens to most people at some point. There are lots of reason why you might not know what you want:

  • Maybe, deep down, you DO know – but it’s big and scary and so you’re just avoiding it rather than take on something so big you’re not sure you can handle it.
  • Maybe you have recently achieved something significant. It’s part of our natural anti-stress systems to take some time out when we complete something important – especially if it’s been very demanding to get there.
  • It could be that you’re just not in the habit of thinking about goals. Lots of people who grew up in the UK when I did were brought up with the mantra ‘I want never gets’ and mistakenly avoided wanting anything because they thought they’d never get it.
  • Or maybe you’re experiencing a shift in your values. This is an evolutionary process. Each person’s values change throughout life, moving through distinct phases where the importance of self vs group, achievement vs process, acquiring vs sharing changes and challenges.

This is why fantastically successful entrepreneurs suddenly stop focusing on making money and become philanthropists.

So if you don’t know what your goals are at present, maybe you’re looking in the wrong place for them.  

Ask yourself this question: if NOTHING AT ALL changed in my life in the next 5 years, would that be okay with me? 

(If the answer is ‘yes’ then your goals are about maintaining the status quo, aren’t they?)

If you answer ‘no’ to that question, then your real goals will quickly reveal themselves if you start considering what you want to be different.



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