By: Martin Grunburg
Change is a funny thing. In fact, one of the great constants (by definition, something that never changes) is, in fact, change.
The great thing about goals is they allow us, in this crazy and uncertain world, to direct some of the change. By doing this, goals provide a sense of purpose, direction and, yep, you guessed it, “control.”
What I didn’t fully understand before is that a sense of control is linked to our general happiness. That’s right: The more we feel we have some sense of “control,” the better — and happier — we are likely to feel.
Simply by setting goals and taking action toward them, you will feel more in control, and that will make you feel better/happier about your life.
A Different Perspective on Goals?
Now, you may be somewhat confused if you’ve noticed some recent blog posts and even studies that suggest goal-setting can backfire, becoming self-defeating, disappointing, discouraging and even depressing.
It’s important to put these ideas into perspective and understand them a little better. The more I review and research them (a few links below), the more I notice some commonalities.
These studies tend to cite a goal-achievement process where the emphasis is on the goal itself, with little or no mention of the process that helps to ensure goal achievement — one that focuses on the core, recurring behaviors (habits) rather than the goal. Recall, The Habit Factor (as a goal-achievement method) proposed the idea of focusing on core, supportive habits rather than something like S.M.A.R.T. goals, and then developing these habits following the P.A.R.R. methodology.
If you check out this article specifically in Psychology Today, titled: “Why Goal Setting Doesn’t Work” (imagine that ; ), you’ll notice in the seventh paragraph the author writes, “inherent problem with goal setting is how the brain works…” She then goes on to say, “Therefore, any goals that require substantial behavioral change or thinking-pattern change will automatically be resisted.” Yep! The key phrase there is “behavior change.” Of course, this is precisely why The Habit Factor® Method has been so popular and effective; it focuses first and specifically on the behavior change itself (habit development) as a process to achieve the goal.
It’s important to set goals and then concentrate our efforts and focus on the behavior change itself — the new habits that will carry us to our BIG goal. In fact, this is precisely why YOU can take The Habit Factor Method to the bank! Other methodologies such as SMART goals entirely miss the concept of habit development to achieve goals.
The other issue brought up when it comes to goal achievement is the “right mindset.” Do you have a “fixed” or a “growth” mindset as you pursue your goal? There is more on exactly what all that means in great detail here, PDF, but one of the key ideas/mindsets for a goal achiever is the idea that they are always growing! Therefore — think about this — technically they never arrive. Now, I recognize that may sound awfully discouraging, but with the Growth Mindset (taking action and getting better every day), the flip side is you are always arriving, every day. ; )
Finally, it’s worth noting that the majority of these papers and studies, such as Harvard’s “Goals Gone Wild,” analyze organizational goals vs. individual, personal goals. And, of course, with organizational goals there are a host of other variables (including the goal itself) that are out of our control (remember control’s link to happiness).
To sum this all up:
1) Always Be Growing
2) Set those personal goals to direct change where and when you can
3) Focus on the process, crafting supportive behaviors — habits — that will help you to achieve your goal!
Key questions to ask yourself:
Do you have a big goal set in three, six or even 12 months?
Have you taken action toward your BIG goal today?
Are you focused on the process — the habits — or the outcome?
What is the process you are using? Does it involve development of the essential habits required to achieve the goal?
Do you have the right tools to ensure those habits are being developed?
The tools to achieve change, growth, control — and ultimately happiness — are here and ready to help you on your way. For a refresher or even an introduction, here is The Habit Factor Method (Free, Habit Tracking Sheet) and How to Use P.A.R.R. (video) or, you can watch it below.
Until next week,
Don’t forget the app is free (iOS and Android).
A few articles/studies to reference:
Goals Gone Wild: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/09-083.pdf
Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals
Psychology Today: Why Goal Setting Doesn’t Work (my favorite ; )