Why Personal Goal-Setting Fails?
88% of all those who set new year resolutions from half of America fail, according to researcher Richard Wiseman, and this figure most probably applies to the rest of the world as well.
I bet you have set goals in your life AND for your life many times, perhaps even religiously makiing new year resolutions each year... but you fail miserably to follow through. If so, you are not alone.
Why do people fail to achieve the goals that they have themselves set? Rather than beating about the bush, let me get straight to the answer:
The reason why people fail to achieve their goals is because they set for themselves goals that they OUGHT to achieve, rather than goals that they are PASSIONATE about.
Is that any surprise to you? Truth is that most of us do not know that life is about living our passions. Life is not about living what our parents, our teachers, or our friends say we should, or even what society says we should. Truth is also that most of us do not know what our true passions are, and so we let others decide for us. Fortunate are those who know their true passions early in life.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart realized his true calling early in life and performed his musical talent before European royalty from the age of 5. By the age of 12, Albert Einstein wanted to devote his life studying nothing less than the behavior of the universe. But for most of us, we live our life like pieces of wood floating aimlessly in the ocean. We landed on our first job by accident, when the position fell vacant, and we literally have to drag ourselves to work each day.
If your ladder to success is leaning against the wrong wall, it doesn't matter how hard you work, or what goals you set. It is doomed to failure, even before you lift a finger. Confucius said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
The Older-Generation Personal Development Gurus Had It All Wrong
Beginning in the late 1970s, I attended a lot of personal development courses. Looking now at where my gurus are, I must regret to say that all of them did not do exceptionally well in life themselves. Why? Because they merely taught what their gurus taught them, and they never even bothered to find out whether their techniques work. Obviously, their techniques are not working! And when participants approached them with their failures, they hastily pushed them away by saying, "You know why? Because you are very negative!"
Imagine how all of these personal development gurus taught goal-setting? "Take out a piece of paper. You've 15 minutes. Write down your 3 main goals"!!! Is that how you teach goal-setting? Not by a long shot! But that was what every personal development guru was teaching then... a case of the blind leading the blind.
I have been pondering over this question of goal-setting for a long time until I read "Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life: Getting to the Heart of Your Life's Mission", by Carole Adrienne. In the below video, Robert Scheinfeld, one of the new-generation self-help gurus, puts it squarely (paraphrased, non-verbatim):
"... we all come to this world with a specific mission or purpose. There's something specific that everyone comes to this world to do and experience. And even though there's an infinite number of things we could do in our lifetime, we had made choices before we come into this world that narrow the field of what's possible for us. It's kinda like if you go to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. There's 20 zillion rides and attractions that you could go for, far more than you could handle on an average visit. But you choose to go on this one, this one, and this one. In other words, you limit the possibilities from the infinite number that's available to you. And it's the same thing in our lives.
The interesting thing is even though there's so many options, the average person is clueless about what their mission and purpose really is. And if your mission and purpose is in this box and you set a goal that's outside the box, you won't succeed.
There is a consciousness of your being from behind the scenes that is determining what happens to you in your life and sees to it that you fulfill your life purpose that's in the box. And it is this creative process in your consciousness that is creating things from behind the scenes that determines what happens and what doesn't happen. It isn't your thoughts. It isn't the goals that you set. It isn't your strategies either. It's your mission and purpose, and the true creative process that's behind the scenes... not what you are perceiving that is really driving the bus. And it is for this reason why goal-setting should have been very effective, but it isn't.
If you really want to transform the quality of your life, if you really want to change and improve what's going on in every aspect of your life, you need to understand and acknowledge the truth of this: Align your goals with your mission and purpose and when all of these are aligned, all of a sudden, everything starts transforming in radical ways."
How do you determine your life mission and purpose? You MUST start with your passion because that's your calling in life. But what if you don't know where your true passion really lies?
How to Determine What Your True Passions Are
If you do not know what your true passions are, begin by making a scrapbook. Choose a daily newspaper that has a wide selection of news items. Cut out all news items that interest you and paste them into your scrapbook. When you have about 100 cuttings, do an analysis to find out which category of news items interest you most. The analysis will tell you where your passion lies. But be careful.
If you have a "biased sample" to start with, e.g. the newspapers don't cover much on health issues, say, you may end up with the wrong conclusion. So when you get the result of the analysis, reflect upon it and ask, "Does the results truly reflect my passions, or is merely because the newspapers have more items on this category?"
To double-check, you can ask your friends and relatives, whether be they close or otherwise. Tell them honestly that you are trying to pinpoint where your true passions lie. Listen to what they have to say, giving allowance to how much they actually know you. By the end of this exercise, you should have a pretty good idea of what your true passions are.
It is only when you know where your true passions are, that you can really begin to start setting goals.
How Do You Set Goals?
Having determined what your true calling in life is, write down your life mission. The life mission is a broad statement of where you want your life to head. Don't know how to write a mission statement? Inspired-personal-development.com offers a 4-step process to guide you in identifying and clarifying your most driving ambitions in life.
Once you have put your mission statement in writing, you can then go into greater and greater detail by setting goals and objectives. Goals are nothing more than longer-term objectives (say, 5 years or 10 years, depending on what your goals are), while objectives are what you can monitor in the shorter term, e.g. every month, so that you know that you are on track to achieving them. The S-M-A-R-T guidelines for setting goals and objectives are:
- Specific: Goals such as "I want to be rich" or "I want to be happy" are practically useless. They must state what is to be done, e.g. "I want to earn $8,000 a month".
- Measurable: Supposing you set a goal to be achieved within 5 years, but the goal is not measurable (e.g. I want to be rich), how would you know you are on track?
- Achievable: It is no point setting a goal that is so high that you yourself do not believe that you can achieve it.
- Realistic: If you are earning $3,000 a month and your goal is to take over the company that you are working for, which is worth $3 billion, then you ought to see a shrink, if your father is not a millionaire.
- Timely: You must set a reasonable time-limit to achieve your goal.
Goals must be written down, so that you do not lose focus. If they exist only in your head, they are just wishful thinking.