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6 Warning Signs That Setting Goals Is Actually Sabotaging You

6 Warning Signs That Setting Goals Is Actually Sabotaging You

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu.

Setting goals used to be one of my favorite things to do.

From sticking a piece of paper with all my goals on the ceiling of my room (so it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up) to planning my entire day out on Outlook, I tried to have my entire life organized and disciplined.

I was always determined to follow through on my goals and achieve them no matter what. The problem was that I was never happy even after achieving my goals. I just got greedy and soon, there were a lot more goals in my life and too many things to do every day. Eventually, I hit the point when life stopped being fun and I got burnt out from the stress.

In hindsight, that was a turning point in my life. It has been close to an year since I completely stopped setting goals. And I can definitely say that I am happier and am as productive as I was before, if not more. If you think you’re in the same boat, see if you can spot any of these 7 warning signs your goals may actually be preventing your best from coming out:

1. You are a perfectionist.

You plan everything to the last second. And when things don’t workout exactly as planned, you get upset.

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Why it’s bad

Though planning ahead is a great idea, being too attached to things working out exactly the way you planned is just setting yourself up for failure. The thing with real life is that things never work out perfectly. This is just something we all have to accept.

The solution

These days I plan ahead but take care to not rely on my plans too much. I always improvise on my plan based on any situation that comes up.

2. You are missing out on your social life.

You really want to achieve your goals no matter what, and therefore maintaining your relationships with your friends and family is not a priority. You tell yourself that you will do this once you have achieved your goal.

Why it’s bad

It’s true that sometimes you have to sacrifice your social life when you want to achieve something. However, completely abandoning your social life only makes you less happy and therefore less productive.

The Solution

This doesn’t mean that you always have to be there for all your friends. It doesn’t mean you have to show up at every friend’s birthday party. There is usually a small group of people who you really care about and vice versa. Make sure you spend time with them on a regular basis.

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3. Working on your goal doesn’t make you smile anymore.

You do your work only because your to-do list says you should. You lack genuine motivation and have stopped getting satisfaction from your work.

Why it’s bad

When the things you do are actually because you want to satisfy the deadline given by a goal you created and not because you actually love doing it, you are no longer having fun.

The Solution

For a week or so, stop doing everything you are doing. For a day or two, you will probably spend the entire day watching movies or other unproductive things you think you love. But if you wait long enough, you will start doing productive things that you genuinely want to do.

4. Once you achieve your goal, you don’t genuinely feel satisfied.

When you complete your objective, your reaction is to set new goals. You don’t feel genuine happiness even though you have achieved something really great.

Why it’s bad

That’s a very stressful and toxic way to react. Being ambitious is okay, but being greedy isn’t.

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The Solution

Ideally in a no-goals lifestyle, you feel satisfaction every day from doing the work you love and not because you have achieved anything. So, regardless of whether you achieve your objective, you feel happy because you’re working hard at what you love doing.

5. Nothing stands in the way of your goal, not even yourself.

It’s maybe not as dramatic as it sounds, but you stop taking care of yourself because that’s not helping you towards your goal. And by taking care of yourself, I don’t mean just dressing up well: I mean giving yourself a break every now and then, to sleep properly, to eat healthfully, etc.

Why it’s bad

In order to function at your best, you need to take care of your physical, mental and emotional needs.

The Solution

Always listen to yourself and make sure that you make time to destress and relax every once in a while. You can save the world after you’ve first taken care of yourself.

6. You constantly fantasize about how great things are going to be one day.

Everything you do is for the future. You push everything else that’s not helping you towards your goal including things you’ve always loved to the future.

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Why it’s bad

The truth is that this day never comes. Trust me, I’ve been in this boat. Something’s always different from the way you imagined it. You are so blinded by working towards your goal that you don’t see other golden opportunities that come your way.

The Solution

If you feel a genuine need to do something, you don’t push it to the future. You do it right now. Because that’s your soul, or your inner voice telling you what you really should be doing right now. And like the Lao Tzu quote at the top, resisting this only creates sorrow.

If you are currently exhibiting any of the warning signs I listed above, I suggest you move on to a no-goals lifestyle and start having fun doing things rather than achieving things.

Featured photo credit: Anne Gutermuth via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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