Accomplishing goals is challenging. To many people, the most common scenario is that they feel excited when setting goals and stick to their goals for a while. But as time goes by, they find the process of achieving their goals stressful and try to procrastinate with all kinds of excuses like being too busy, lacking the resources, discouragement from people around them etc. Have you ever wondered why procrastination and even giving up are the usual endings when pursuing your goals? It is not about you being not perseverant enough, but you setting your goals with the wrong approach.
The problem of focusing too much on numbers
When it comes to career planning, many people like linking their goals to numbers. I wish I can proceed to the management level in 3 years. I wish I can break the sales record of the company next quarter. I wish my salary can increase by 30% in one year. No doubt these numbered goals are concrete and easy to visualize so they are able to motivate you in the beginning.
But let’s face the fact: whether we can achieve our career goals is not only determined by how much effort we put in our work. There are many factors we cannot fully control. So setting numbered goals is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives us a clear direction; on the other hand, it traps us in a rigid boundary. Once we cannot proceed to the management level or break the sales record when the preset deadline is approaching, most likely we will feel overwhelmed and procrastinate what we are supposed to do. Worse still, we may feel deeply frustrated and deny our self-worth.
So instead of setting a fixed goal and thinking what concrete actions you need to take to reach the goal, you should ask yourself this more important question: What are the values behind the goal you set?
Why focusing on values is a better approach
If we truly understand why we’re setting specific goals, then we’ll be better at incorporating the goals into our lives and building habits for them, and so we no longer feel exhausted from rushing to reaching our goals within a certain time frame.
If your goal is reaching the management level in your career, you should go deep to understand the rationale behind it. If your ultimate goal is to make your ideas as the driving force of the company’s strategies, then what you do is not only limited to demonstrating that you possess the qualities to make a great leader or competing with your colleagues for the titles. Instead, you will build the habits of grasping opportunities for your company, contributing more valuable ideas in meetings and bettering the communication and coordination between colleagues. In this way, you will not confuse your values (increasing your influence and contribution in the company) with the means (reaching the management level).
Although setting numbered goals and coming up with corresponding strategies can possibly shorten your time on reaching your goals, the non-negligible side effect is that you do not enjoy the process and so procrastination keeps visiting you. When you try tweaking the approach to set your goals based on your values, you can see more options to realize what you want and by turning them into your habits, you’ll find the process more enjoyable and more sustainable.
Featured photo credit: Amanda Jordan via stocksnap.io