Some Goals Were Never Meant To Be Pursued
Your personal ecology will determine which life goals you’ll actually achieve—and which ones you’ll never accomplish. Take a close look at what’s really important to you before choosing your next goal . . . because some goals were never meant to be pursued.
Episode 30 - Some Goals Were Never Meant To Be Pursued
We all have dreams of a better future. Maybe it’s a better job, a larger home, or a new car. Maybe we want to start our own business or move up in professional status by receiving a promotion into upper management. Some of us want better relationships or a brand new one that provides us with a sense of happiness and security that we haven’t been able to find in our current situation.
These are common ambitions, and at some point in our lives, most of us have chosen similar objectives as goals. Then we break them down into specific action steps that will ultimately move us closer to what we really want. Or in some cases, what we think we really want.
For example, there was a time, not too long ago, when I constantly told myself there were things I needed to do — tasks I should accomplish, actions I needed to take because I’d told myself doing these things would eventually bring about the changes I wanted to see in my life.
And knowing the importance of having written goals, I faithfully added each new ambition to my list of objectives, and then reduced them into small, achievable steps.
These became must-do tasks that would eventually result in attaining the goal I’d set for myself.
Finally, I scheduled a reasonable amount of time for the completion of each task, usually allocating a portion of each day to work on the next segment of the goal. But in many cases, at the end of the week, these new must-do items were still on my list, unfinished.
“That’s no problem,” I told myself. “It was a busy week. I didn’t have the time. Other responsibilities got in the way. I’ll just move the objectives forward and I’ll raise their priority.”
I’m sure you know what happened. At the end of the following week, those same tasks remained incomplete. But I was still convinced of their importance, and so I rescheduled—again. And then again.
After a month or so, I began to feel a sense of dread and frustration every time I looked at my daily planner.
And there was a reason for it.
If you’re continuing to procrastinate over starting a new project, or you find yourself putting off completing the next step, it could be your subconscious telling you you’re trying to move in the wrong direction, or that you’re making the wrong choice altogether.
This kind of Self-defeating behavior — the delaying, re-scheduling, postponing — are all symptoms of a mismatch; a disparity between what you’re telling yourself you want and what your inner-most self really needs.
Hey, welcome back. This is Roger Reid with another episode of success point 360.
I’m recording this episode on December 26th, the start of what’s often called a dead week, the week between Christmas and New Years’. It’s often called that, because a lot of businesses reduce their activities to basic operations, putting new projects on hold until after the first of the year. It’s also a week of extreme opportunity; a chance to look back and see what we accomplished and to determine what we want to do with the next twelve months of our lives – and beyond. In other words, it’s a great time to ask the question, what’s next?
Some of us will think about changing our jobs and careers. Others will concentrate on creating better relationships. Depending on where you are on your life-plan, it’s the perfect opportunity to look at the big picture, and if necessary, make some course corrections.
Because we are beginning a new year, all of us are going to be inundated with articles, blog posts, and podcasts on the process of goal setting . . . how to create and describe them, make them realistic, time-bound, and to make yourself more accountable for their accomplishment.
And that’s great. Read those articles, listen to those podcasts. Because, even if it’s nothing more than a review, we can always use a refresher to help us focus and concentrate our time on the things that will make a difference in our lives.
This episode of Success point 360 is also about goal setting, but the approach is going to be a bit different than the majority of what you’ll read and hear from other business consultants and life coaches. And it’s that contrast, that distinction that can make the difference between living a happy, rewarding, and satisfying life, or one that’s full of frustration and conflict –most of which will be the result of the goals you choose to pursue.
But what happens when we decide to pursue a new goal, break it down into scheduled, manageable action steps, and yet, despite our best intentions, we just can’t seem to make any progress. In fact, having the goal makes us feel like we’ve got an albatross around our neck – a constant, and frustrating reminder that we made the commitment to follow through, but for some reason, we can’t seem to find the time, or something else comes up, taking us off track. And no matter how much we try to put ourselves back on track, we just can’t seem to make any headway.
There’s a lot of reasons why we don’t always follow through on our goals, and while we’re all familiar with the excuses we use to rationalize our lack of progress, there’s one reason that is seldom talked about.
It’s called an ecological incongruency, a conflict that occurs on the subconscious level, and it often results from an inconsistency or contradiction in your beliefs and values. For example, you tell yourself you want to pursue that goal because it will raise your income level, but it will also mean working at night – which is the only time you have to be with your family. So you tell yourself it’s only for a short time, the family will understand. And in the end, it’ll be worth it, because you’ll have so much more money, allowing you to provide your spouse and kids a more financially secure future.
So you start out strong, taking action, accomplishing the steps that will move you closer to that objective of increasing your income. But after a month or so, you realize there’s something wrong. The kids seem distant, your spouse isn’t as attentive. You tell yourself it can’t be the additional work you’ve taken on, because your family knows you’re doing it for their benefit. So you continue to pursue that goal, telling yourself it will be worth it in the end. Another month passes, and something’s off. You’re just not making the same amount of progress you did at first. And you’ve noticed you’re beginning to have feelings of resentment toward your family, especially when they criticize you for not being available to them. Don’t they know you’re trying to make a better life for them?
Now the conflict is no longer restricted to your subconscious. It’s affecting your life in real and obvious ways, with symptoms we’re all familiar with: frustration, confusion, and yes, even procrastination. And the greater the degree of disagreement between the values that define who you are, and the thing that you’ve told yourself you need to pursue, the more obvious the symptoms.
Think of it as your brain’s way of letting you know it’s time for a little heart-to-heart chat, about your life, your direction, and how you’re spending your time.
The concept of Personal Ecology is based on compatibility — creating goals that are congruent with existing objectives, as well as being in harmony with your beliefs and values.
Each of us has a mental gatekeeper that is always ready to raise a red flag whenever we try to pursue an activity that isn’t in alignment or is in outright conflict with our pre-existing choices, our responsibilities, personality, and character.
That’s why any new goal needs to be subjected to a compatibility test, to determine if the new activity and the additional commitment in time are going to fit within the parts of your life that are already working for you.
For example, can you realistically obtain your commercial pilot’s license while studying to become a doctor? Can you run for city council (and have any chance of winning) if you maintain your current travel schedule as an international business consultant?
Yes, these might be extreme examples, but the concept is just as valid with less obvious conflicts, some of which may originate from seemingly outside your control. Here’s a quick story that makes the point:
Joyce decided to finish her associate degree by taking a few night classes at the local college. She’s committed. Determined. This time it’s really going to happen.
She made it to the first class without a problem. Yes, she arrived a few minutes late, but she showed up, prepared, and ready.
The second week, Joyce’s boss gave her a project that had to be done by Friday, so she had to miss the class to make sure the work was completed on time.
On the third week of class, Joyce’s husband was out of town on business and the babysitter arrived ten minutes late. By the time Joyce drove to the campus, the class was half over. So she sat in the car, tired, angry, and frustrated.
“Why can’t I make this work?” She asks. But she already knows the answer.
Her current responsibilities have pre-committed her time to other activities. And those “other” activities aren’t optional; her family and work responsibilities are important, and she’s not willing to subordinate them to a lesser priority.
The scheduling conflict has made it obvious: Returning to school at this point in Joyce’s life is not realistic.
Pursuing a task that doesn’t ultimately fit within your personal ecology is like trying to win a race by running in the wrong direction. You’ll collide head-on with the parts of your life that are moving forward and in alignment with your pre-established priorities and values.
So how do you bring more congruency to your life? How do you evaluate the goals and objectives of your life-plan to determine which ones are realistically attainable, and which ones need to be either postponed or even abandoned?
Try asking yourself the following questions:
1. Does the objective have anything to do with money?
Money is a monstrous motivator. And like other addictions, it can initially mask its repercussions and negative influences with the lure of symbolic power. Doing anything — just for the money — gets old fast. For long-term satisfaction, there should be other reasons compelling you to take action.
Yes, money is important. But when it’s the only motivation, it’s easy to lose track of other life priorities.
2. What items continue to remain on your list, while you make little or no progress toward their completion?
Anything that remains on your to-do list week after week is, by default, of lesser priority than the other things you actually get done. While you may wish you could accomplish these tasks, they don’t carry the weight or importance of your other goals and objectives — otherwise, you’d already be working on them. Yes, you may have ambitions that, if accomplished, would give you bragging rights or look good on your resume.
But if you took them off your list, would it be the end of the world?
3. Scrutinize a questionable goal by asking who will benefit from its completion?
Is this something you’re doing for yourself? Or someone you care about? Did you originate the task? Or was it adopted from someone who asked you for a favor? We constantly do things for others. Some of those activities may be inherent in generating our income and livelihood. Others may fall under our responsibility as a supportive spouse, parent, family member, or friend.
But there’s a limit. And when the needs of others over-shadow the responsibilities we have to our own success and happiness in life, we may need to re-evaluate how we’re spending our time.
4. Are you considering a goal that will push your life out of balance?
Keep in mind that our lives are seldom in perfect balance at any point in time. However, when we look back at larger blocks of time —and I’m talking about three, five, or ten years — we should see the “averaged” use of our time allocated over the areas of our life that are most important to us.
Our priorities –the things in our life that really count, are made obvious by how much time we devote to them. In short, how we spend our time defines us. And the equation works in both directions: If you want to re-define your life, you’re going to have to change how you spend your time. So do your best to be clear on what you’re willing to give up, and what needs to remain a constant, before you begin to take the actions necessary to accomplish that new goal.
5. Is the timing right?
As life changes, so must we.
The things you thought you wanted five years ago may not generate the same level of excitement or motivation. While it may have been your point of focus back then, things have changed. You have changed.
Granted, giving up on what used to be an important goal is like saying goodbye to a dear friend from the past. But it also opens up the time and possibility of something new that is more appropriate and just right for you — now.
I’ll Leave You with This:
Conventional advice recommends pushing through procrastination by being persistent—and if necessary, ruthlessly persistent. But forcing yourself to take on additional activities that are incompatible with your pre-established goals and values can do more harm than good.
At best, you’ll struggle with time and scheduling conflicts. And if you continue to force the issue, you’ll likely produce a lot of stress and very little progress.
We only get one shot at this. Yes, if we’re lucky, that shot might be as long as eighty or ninety years. But the window of opportunity is not linear. And as we get older, and look back at our personal timeline, we see there are seasons in our lives in which we’re the most productive, when we’re motivated to go after the things we’re interested in, the things that we want to explore and enjoy.
So the moral of the story is don’t waste that precious time. While traditional advice typically tells us that pursuing goals is a definite method of using our time productively – it doesn’t always mean it’s going to move you closer to what is most important in your life – especially if working toward that goal comes with a price that ultimately, is too much to pay.
Make sure the objectives you choose for yourself are in alignment with your highest values. It’s one thing to sacrifice an hour or two you spend in front of the TV set. But it’s something else entirely if the accomplishment of your goals costs you your relationship with your spouse, or your kids, or your sense of identity and self-respect.
That’s it for this episode. I wanted to let you know that throughout the month of January, I’m keeping the price of the Kindle version of my new book, Better Mondays, the New Rules for Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom While Working For the Man, at the reduced pre-publication price. It’s available on Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback.
Thanks for listening, and I‘ll see you next time.
© 2020 Roger Reid. All Rights Reserved.
For more information about the author, his work, or to subscribe to this podcast, visit www.SuccessPoint360.com
Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure and check out my new book now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. It’s titled Better Mondays: The New Rules for Creating Financial Success and Personal Freedom (While Working For the Man)
I’ve lowered the price for the Kindle version, so if you or someone you know is struggling with a job that doesn’t provide anything more than a paycheck, or you’re ready to use your employer as a launching pad to start your own business, you’ll find the tools you need to take control of your professional success and to change your life for the better.
You can find more information on my website, www.successpoint360.com. I’ve posted the first chapter on the site as a free read, so I encourage you to take a look.