Goals are Not Only For Achieving

Jan 10, 2023

Goals aren’t just for achievement… When we set big goals we always fall short… But that’s not a problem… In fact, it is the way goals were designed.

I love setting big goals, and gym challenges are a great way to do just that!

I have been part of a gym challenge for the last 8 weeks where we are grouped in small groups, encouraging each other to keep to the exercise and food plan regimen both by having pre-arranged group workouts and a Facebook community. We are nearing the end of the challenge and one of my gym mates, we will call her Kelly, told me today “Well I didn’t do it perfectly, but at least I didn’t give up” She phrased her statement like a question. Now I try not to be “coachy” when no one is asking for it, but I couldn’t help it, because she did ask me a question kind of right ???

Kelly had set a big goal, and she hadn't done it perfectly. The thing about big ambitious goals is that it is not only about getting to your goal, but the changes you make in your life and in the way you show up in the world when you set these big goals. The parameters of the challenge were: workout 5-6 times a week, no pasta, no flour, no bread, no alcohol, and meals that were made of whole foods, no exceptions. Now Kelly had a big birthday that fell smack in the middle of this challenge, and she already made plans to travel to an amazing Southern city known for its culinary scene and cocktails, where she was meeting her sister and friends. So did she have a cocktail, and a rich Southern meal each night of the 3 day weekend she was there? Oh, you bet she did! But she also did some exercise on her trip and chose lighter lunches– things she probably would not have done if it wasn’t for the challenge.  For the rest of the challenge, she was very diligent about planning healthy meals, and not just ordering takeout which she was accustomed to. She also went to the gym at least 4 or 5 times a week, which was a very new habit for her.  So did she skip the gym and have alcohol and fried chicken when celebrating her birthday? Yup, she sure did. But did she overall change to being a person who plans healthy meals and daily exercise into her routine? For sure, and it showed!


The thing about these big goals we set, they are about getting us close to where we want to be, but what happens a lot of the time, instead of us celebrating the progress we have made from where we started, we instead keep measuring how far we have to go to. We don’t celebrate the fact that we are eating more healthfully, being more consistent with our exercise, getting closer to our financial goals, etc… we end up instead hyper-focusing on where we fall “short” of our big goal and we use that as fodder to beat ourselves up.

Kelly brought it up like a question because it’s hard to celebrate doing 85% of the work when your aim was 100%, but the truth is life has hurdles and sometimes we can only do 85%, and if we see that as a complete failure, then often we just stop trying on our goals, or we delay them until the “right time”. And of course, if you are looking for the right time when obstacles won’t be present, and you won’t have challenges, you are going to be looking forever.

It’s really important to become clear when we look at our goals, and our path to achieving them that we do not get stuck in this dichotomous thinking where we can only celebrate if we 100% achieve the goal – because the truth about having big goals and high standards is that you sometimes fall short, but it’s the process of what it requires to go after them in which the growth and change truly happen. So for example, if your goal for the year is to make an extra 100,000 dollars of revenue in your business, if you get 85% there that is 85,000 dollars, you can still celebrate that and all the effort and creativity required to create that extra income. It would be foolish to beat yourself up about the 15,000 you didn’t make. In fact, if you did that it would be really unlikely for you to try again the following year, you might even just give up on your goal together, and not try to grow your business. What a shame that would be! The same goes for other goals where the results might not be as clear-cut. Kelly should celebrate that she no longer comes home from work, drinks 2 glasses of wine with takeout, and barely ever works out. She now works out consistently and plans most of her meals– and yeah on her big birthday, she rang it in right, with cocktails and fancy indulgent dinners, something she never wanted to give up in the first place. And after the challenge she maybe she won't even hit 85%, but 50%, and that is way better than zero.

Set big goals, keep reaching for them, and when you fall short, take the time to look back to where you started, ask yourself: Did I grow? Did I make progress? How can I do it better the next time? Celebrate your progress, truly notice it, and then set a new goal.  But don’t make not reaching your goal 100 % make it mean that you should give up. Remember goals aren’t just for achieving, but for moving the needle forward. And if you are someone who is achieving every goal in your life on the first try, I challenge you to set bigger goals. The fun is in the growth that comes with big goals.


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