When you set goals for yourself, how do you feel? Do you get excited, energized, and ready to take on the world? Or do you become stressed, frazzled, or terrified that you won't live up to the challenges you've set? For some people, goal setting is a dream. For others, a nightmare.
But even if you LOVE setting goals, there are many ways that having rigid goals can actually set you back in your progress towards finding your niche.
Especially in college, and in young adulthood, we're encouraged to set goals for ourselves. To pick a major. To pick a career. To pick a passion. These goals become part of our identities as individuals, and we hold on to them pretty tightly. As an advisor I've worked with many students who held so closely to their goal of going to graduate school or medical school that they continued on that path even when every step was a struggle.
While there is something to be said for that kind of determination and perseverance, it can actually be hurtful for us to become too attached to our goals. We experience disappointment when we don't reach them on time, or don't reach them at all. It becomes a blow not only to our plans, but to our identities. This, I think, is why so many well-meaning friends, family members, and teachers encourage students to aim lower than what they truly want. They are trying to guard against that disappointment by choosing a "safe bet".
Worse, though, than the emotional blow of not achieving our goal, is when we let our goals drown out our own personal truths. Our goals can give us tunnel-vision and stop us from seeing other opportunities that would make us so much happier! As one of my favorite self-help authors, Danielle LaPorte says: "Shouting goals at yourself deafens your truth". When this happens, we may struggle towards a goal, only to reach it and find ourselves unsatisfied.
So what can you do instead?
Start by thinking of your goal. Maybe your goal is to become famous on YouTube, or to start your own company, or to become a pediatrician. Have you thought of your goal? Great!
Now, picture yourself after you have achieved your goal. What does it look like? How will you feel? Successful? Free? Powerful? Loved? Perfect!
Now throw your goal in the trash! Because ultimately, that feeling is the REAL goal.
We assume that we feel good because we have reached our goals, but in truth, the FEELING is the goal.
If your goal is aligned with your truth, you will experience that feeling all along your journey while working to reach your goal. You will feel successful as you complete your pre-med coursework. You will feel free as you make your own choices and decisions, and work to build your own business from the ground up.
If you're not getting those feelings, adjust your path until you are!
Life is not waiting for you at the end of your finish line. It's happening now. And every moment you spend doing what feels like "work" towards your goal? That's the life you're living. So trash your goals, and focus on feeling the way you want to feel.
I guarantee you will reach more goals, and have a better time doing it!