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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 April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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