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Forget about setting goals

posted Mar 19, 2016, 6:29 PM by Ann Lee
We are all too familiar with the process of setting lofty new year resolutions, but hardly follow through with them all.  The truth is:
1. Goals reduce your current happiness: when you set a goal for yourself, your mindset is essentially, "I'm not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal."  Choosing a goal adds pressure to yourself.  Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process versus the results.  You can then actually enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
2. Goals are at odds with long-term progress.  When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?  You can go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one, creating a yo-yo cycle that is difficult to build progress for the long-term.  If you set a goal and don't reach it, you feel like a failure.  Instead with a systems-based mentality, you care less about numbers but sticking to the process which can be followed for life.  This then releases the need for immediate results.
3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.  You can't predict the future, but every time you set a goal, you try to control the result.  You plan out where you will be and when you will make it there.  You try to predict how quickly you can make progress, even though you have no idea what circumstances will come along.  Incorporating feedback loops into a system allows you to keep track of different pieces and allow you to make adjustments without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything.  

Having a system in place will guarantee the results you want without focusing on specific goals.  For example, a system for life could be to eat as much non-processed foods as possible without having to focus on the amount of weight you would like to lose.  Being able to commit to a process or system for life is what makes the difference.