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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 December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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