Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goal Setting

I recently read the following post about goal setting, and according to the information in this article, only 3% of the population sets goals and only one percent write them down:  The article goes on to describe why it is important to teach kids to set and write down goals.  While I think the intent of the writer is a positive one, I'm not sure I entirely agree.

Goals have value, and can help you to achieve some things by giving focus and direction.  Writing them down (and putting them somewhere you will see it every day) serves as a commitment and a reminder of your ambition.  But I also have several problems with goals. 

In pursuit of every goal, there are obstacles that one will encounter and overcome.  Occasionally these obstacles will cause you to change goals/plans because as they say, "that's the way the cracker crumbles".  So if a goal is going to change and evolve, what is the point of having the goal in the first place?  Wouldn't it be more valuable to be able to roll with the punches?  And if you choose to continue to pursue a goal despite insurmountable obstacles or a change in your needs/development, then it would appear that you would pursuing them with a blind fanatical conviction that is out of touch with reality.  This does not seem to be healthy or productive.

Pursuit of one's goals also prevents one from living in the moment and enjoying what life is offering everyday, every moment.  Instead of living for the future, it would be beneficial to live consciously and presently finding success in the way that you choose your day to unfold.   

Further, if one still chooses to live life according to goals, setting them is not enough.  One must know how to structure the goals so that they are attainable and reasonble.  The goals must be worthy of accomplishing as well, and not just shaping one's fancies.  And in reality a goal is meaningless if one does not have the will to follow through on the goal.  And so many of us lack any meaningful willpower.

Despite my problems with goals, I think they do have some merit and can be a useful tool.  Whether one chooses to live life according to goals or not, it is still informative to understand goal development and utilization.  There is a difference between choosing not to set goals because you do not think it is the best life strategy and failing to set goals or take any actions because you have not thought about the matter.  I applaud the writer of introducing the subject to kids, but I think the emphasis on the importance of goals is overblown.  I have used goals in the past, and I will likely use them in the future, but it is more important for me to set my direction based on principles and conscious living, than the pursuit of my desires which change frequently as I mature and develop.

Do you use goals?  How do you use them, and if so what are they?

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