Goal Setting Not Working? Try These 8 Alternatives

Sometime between the Christmas holidays and the closing of all your year-end obligations, you may be setting your goals for the upcoming year as well. While there is nothing wrong with that, most of us fail to achieve these goals. A staggering 92 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions never keep them, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

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Why do we keep setting ourselves up for failure? That answer varies from person to person. However, some of the more common culprits include;

  • Make goals too vague.
  • Set unattainable goals.
  • List only your long-term goals.
  • Write your goals as negative statements.
  • You get discouraged when you’re wrong.
  • Your environment does not support your goals.
  • You minimize or do not celebrate your victories.
  • There is no system to hold you accountable.

Furthermore, goals are hardly translated into daily actions and some of us don’t keep track of our progress.

Whatever the reason, if you have found that goal setting is not being met, you may want to explore the following eight alternatives in the future.

1. Ask yourself, “Did I do my best?”

Do your best. If it sounds like advice from a kindergarten teacher, well, I get it, ”writes a freelance writer and Fast Company contributor Daniel Dowling. “Vague goals produce vague results, right?”

However, Dowling found that an undefined goal can be a hit in reality check when included with a daily goal system. Plus, it can generate tangible results.

The reason this can work? First, many of us have a hard time determining how much time to spend on our goals. When setting goals, we don’t know where to draw the line between ambition and wishful thinking. In turn, this means that we do not obtain the desired result.

When Dowling wondered, “Did I do my best?” he faced the amount of effort he had actually put in that day. If he was “wasting most of the day,” he analyzed why and made changes so as not to repeat the same mistake again.

“Without wondering if I had done my best every day, I would have wallowed in self-reproach or not reflected on my performance at all. Instead, I turned self-criticism into a habit of self-improvement, “he wrote.

2. Establish anti-goals.

Is your calendar cluttered with useless meetings? Are you exhausted from working long hours? Have you questioned your relationships?

If you’ve ever had these kinds of questions, you can turn things around by setting anti-goals.

While this may seem counterintuitive, “anti-Goals create a balance by showing us a tangible set of values ​​or actions that we don’t want to be,” says Ken Wu.

Originally introduced as a concept called ‘premeditatio malorum’, used by Seneca, Foucault and Socrates, “anti-goals give us a benchmark of failure that we must avoid and allow us to anticipate ourselves at our worst,” he adds. This allows us to take our first steps of personal growth and we stay true to ourselves as we develop.

When starting out, Wu focused on the following areas;

  • Values. Do you want to reject some standard or behavior?
  • Habit. What actions are you consciously trying to avoid?
  • Physical. What potential health problems do you want to minimize?
  • Emotional. What states of mind do you want to avoid?
  • Relationships Do you want to avoid certain relationships? What is your ideal way of interacting with others?

However, to harness the power of the anti-targets, Wu cautions that they shouldn’t consume you. He also says that they shouldn’t make one feel complacent or stuck. Instead, they must evolve and push it forward.

3. Establish themes.

Although there is a time and place for goals every day, goals often lead to anxiety, regret, and depression rather than fulfillment, pride, and satisfaction, says Niklas Göke. This is because we put pressure on ourselves until we reach our goals. Also, when we finally fulfill them, they disappear without a trace.

Also, we think that happiness is experienced after this burst of relief. In turn, this inspires us to set a new and bigger goal. However, it is out of our reach. In short, it is a vicious cycle.

Harvard researcher Tal Ben-Shahar calls this “the arrival fallacy,” the illusion that “reaching some future destination will bring lasting happiness.” To combat this, author and entrepreneur James Altucher lives by themes rather than goals that foster meaning over pleasure.

Göke says that a subject can be a single verb, a noun, or an adjective. “Engagement”, “growth” and “healthy” are valid themes, he adds. As they are “invest”, “help”, “kindness” and “gratitude”.

“Topics are immune to anxiety for tomorrow,” says Göke. So they don’t care what you regret yesterday either. “All that matters is what you do today, who you are in this second and how you choose to live now.”

4. Focus on systems.

According to James Clear, author of # 1 New York Times Best seller, Atomic habits, affirms that there are several problems with the goals, among them;

  • Winners and losers alike have the same goals.
  • Reaching a goal is a momentary change.
  • Goals can restrict your happiness.
  • Goals are often at odds with a long-term process.

Because of this, look at, clear champion systems on objectives. These are simply daily processes and habits. For example, exercising for 30 minutes before work or learning a new skill for 10 minutes after lunch. Even though you didn’t set a specific outcome, like losing 50 pounds or speaking Spanish fluently, the systems are flexible and help you progress.

This is well described by Clear using a rowboat metaphor. Consider goals as a rudder and systems as oars: “Goals determine your direction. Systems determine your progress. “

5. Burn or burn.

Okay. This may seem a bit radical and potentially dangerous. However, it might be worth a try if you are having a hard time completing those necessary but terrible tasks necessary to reach a goal. And this is how it works, according to Nir Eyal in a Observer mail.

  • Choose your routine. For example, go to the gym.
  • Reserve your time. Make time in your schedule for routine. Routines cannot be performed if you do not reserve the time to make an appointment or meeting.
  • Find a crisp $ 100 bill, or whatever denomination you don’t want to lose.
  • Find a lighter.
  • Buy a wall calendar and post it somewhere that you see every day.
  • Place the lighter near the wall calendar and tape the $ 100 bill to today’s date.

You now have two options available. On any given day, when it is time to perform your routine, you have the option of choosing between option A and performing the routine, in my case feeling the “burn” in the gym, or option B and literally burning money, he explains. Eyal. . Money cannot be given to anyone or spent on anything; you must set it on fire.

Not only is it dangerous to light the bill, it is also illegal. However, science has found that just the thought of watching your hard-earned money burn can motivate you to complete the tasks you don’t want.

6. Adopt a mantra.

The process of achieving a goal often also involves changing your habits. Of course, this is always easier said than done. After all, when some of us experience setbacks, we tend to get so disappointed that we just quit.

Perhaps you should adopt a “mantra” rather than a resolution if this describes you. As a result of its over-expansion, entrepreneur Reshma Chamberlin tested this approach by incorporating an annual “anchor.”

For Chamberlin, as she said Fast company Jenna Abdou, “It is not a single goal, like going to the gym every day. Instead, her mantra is a conscious choice to take control of her life. ”For example, her 2017 mantra was,“ Ask and you will receive. ”Through this motto, she felt more empowered to seek new experiences.

However, when placing blankets, Chamberlin suggests that they are positive and deliberate. And the mantra is too unrealistic or it makes you unhappy; try a different one.

7. Make a COVENANT.

“Instead of SMART goals, which do not encourage long-term ambitious efforts, I prefer to do a PACT with myself,” notes Anne-Laure Le Cunff at Ness Labs. “While a SMART goal focuses on the result, the PACT approach focuses on the result. “

In short, instead of pursuing a well-defined goal, it is about continuous growth. In this sense, it can be a valuable alternative to SMART goals.

But what exactly does PACT mean?

  • Useful. An appropriate goal should be relevant to your long-term purpose in life, not just your immediate needs. It’s much easier to get motivated and stay motivated when your goals are aligned with your passions and priorities.
  • Actionable. You must have a goal that is both controllable and actionable. Focusing on immediate results rather than over planning for distant results in the future is the key to changing your mindset.
  • Continuous. Choice paralysis prevents many people from achieving their goals, Le Cunff explains. This happens when you have so many options that you spend more time researching than doing things to achieve your goal. One of the benefits of continuous goals is that they are flexible and repeatable. That means focusing on continuous improvement is more important than a predetermined end point.
  • Traceable. Not measurable, adds Anne-Laure Le Cunff. Statistics are often overrated and do not apply to a wide variety of goals. As with the GitHub tracker, Le Cunff likes the “yes” or “no” approach to goal tracking as it makes tracking progress a breeze.

8. Don’t set goals at all.

According to Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits, sometimes the best goal is to have no goal.

“Today I live mostly goalless. Every now and then, I start to set a goal, but I let it go, ”he writes. “Living without goals has never been one of my goals … it’s just something I’m learning that I enjoy the most, that is incredibly liberating, that works with the lifestyle of following my passion that I have developed.”

That may sound liberating in theory, but how does it really work?

Explain that there is no goal for the year, month, week, or day. You don’t get obsessed with follow-through or actionable steps. There’s even no need for a to-do list, although jotting down reminders is fine.

“What do you do then? Lying on the couch all day, sleeping, watching TV and eating Ho-Hos? He asks. Of course not. Just do it.

“You find something that you are passionate about and you do it,” says Leo. “Just because you don’t have goals doesn’t mean you don’t do anything: you can create, you can produce, you can follow your passion.”

As a result, Leo says that he can achieve more than if he had goals, as he is always doing something that excites him. But ultimately, that’s not the point. Instead, he emphasizes, “all that matters is that I’m doing what I love, always.”

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