Who Gets Stressed Setting Goals?

Goals are meant to give us a sense of calm. A direction in which to head. Knowledge that with time we will arrive at the place we want to be. But do you really buy this?

    • Each year we set goals to fail

There’s that one about weight, that one about time management, that one about being a better parent/partner/friend. Document the goal by your own life stage. 

Then we got all efficient and replaced them with SMART goals, an acronym that’s so tight that it gives most of us no option but to fail. And then we can truly compound our misery by saying, ‘Goal-setting simply doesn’t work!’ But the problem doesn’t finish there.

    • We still need to get where we want to go, either with goals or without them

So what’s the answer? 

Being directionally correct. Ok that doesn’t sound specific or time bound, and maybe it’s not measurable in context, but I’m sure directionally correct can be regarded as achievable and relevant. And all this is particularly so when you have such a big fat hairy goal that its completion really does matter.

For example, one of my overriding goals is to make my youngest daughter safe. I say youngest because my eldest has more than enough ability to forge a good and rewarding life for herself. My youngest has additional needs, and so requires a little more help from us as parents.

How do I make my daughter safe? The only sure-fire way is to make her independent, or at least as independent as possible. That means her doing things for herself and me putting in place backup structures, like a Trust Fund, to ensure her financial security.

So what are these independence skills? First, she needs Daily Living skills to look after herself physically. Skills like cooking, shopping, managing day to day spending, washing, cleaning and a whole host of other things we all do to manage our lives each day. She will also need travel skills, and all those things that facilitate having a life outside the house.

Second, to make her happy, she needs a sense of self-respect. A Purpose. Something to give her an identity in the world, otherwise an identity will be given to her, often in a form of a discouraging statistic. Time fills everyone’s day. Time can be filled with boredom or that time can be filled with something more to do. I think of the times I’ve felt down, and it’s often been when I didn’t have a purpose to my time. Time has to be filled with something, either a presence or an absence. So safer for her happiness for it to be filled with a presence, a purpose. 

Third, people, Relationships. I want her to have people in her life because otherwise it’s a lonely existence. I say this in the full knowledge of course that there’s only so much of people she can take. Not sure whether this is a generalisation, but many people with additional needs often want time alone to relieve the pressure of the day. But I bet too we all like to have people around, it’s just the length of time we want them around varies from person to person. But I believe a happy life has people in it.

Fourth, Financial Security. She needs money to live the life she wants. It is possible she may not earn enough in the future herself to sustain the lifestyle she is accustomed to. That’s where I can help by setting up structures that will help her build a dependable income. 

So although I don’t know exactly how to reach my overriding goal

    • Being directionally correct takes us towards where we want to go

Sometimes we can plan certain things we need to do to reach our overall desired goal, even if we don’t have a detailed plan about how to get there. Sometimes it just the starting, just the declaration of where we want to go that is the important thing. 

    • Sometimes detailed, specific plans follow

As our direction takes hold, as we really get to know what we need to do, then specific, measurable, timed goals can focus our efforts. SMART goals. But the thing is

    • We shouldn’t get too stressed setting goals. They should guide us, not imprison us with feelings of failure because we don’t meet them

This year I say to everyone, let’s be directionally correct and not set unrealistic goals that achieve only failure. Let’s keep our positive energy for positive thoughts, and not be a new year’s resolutions statistic. Let’s work towards where we want to go rather than expect to get there before we should. Let’s stick on our own tracks.

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