Three Questions To Ask Yourself About Your So-Called “Goals
As a therapist, I am constantly talking to people about their goals. The pandemic has not erased the desire to have goals, and the New Year has brought a slew of goal talk to the surface. Now you might think I hear peoples’ goals and then help them develop ways to meet said goal. That would be nice and supportive, but that would also be way too easy. I actually am pretty annoying (and helpful!) when it comes to the goal-setting process. Here are three questions I ask my clients (and myself) when considering spending any amount of time working towards a goal: 1. How many times have you recommitted to this goal? If you make this goal every year and are still pining for results, that is something to consider. Is this goal-setting you up to feel bad about yourself? Is this goal the frenemy you never wanted? Don’t carry around the baggage of goal ghosts of the past. Let that sh*t go and be free of whatever goal has been dragging you down! You’re amazing, and you DO NOT NEED IT! Now, if this paragraph makes you mad and makes you want to shout at me, “YES, I DO NEED THIS GOAL, THIS IS MY DREAM, MY PASSION, MY EVERYTHING!” Then yes! Keep the goal and show yourself (not me because I don’t know you, so whatevs) that it is truly time to buckle down. Grad school? New job? Financial? Whatever it is, get it because it is clearly important; otherwise, it wouldn’t make you want to yell! 2. Is this YOUR goal or subtle/not so subtle messages from others? So many times, the goals listed are incredibly cliché. Some top contenders are to lose weight, make more money, move, yada yada yada. Those are all great goals, but are they yours? Maybe you actually really like your body but want to get stronger (raising my hand on this one). Maybe you really love the job you have, and you want to make it work for you, but your family judges it. Making more money is great and necessary, but maybe you’re fine, but worried people don’t see you as “successful.” Only you know, but what I can tell you is that if your goal is not yours, it really isn’t going to matter that much to you, and you will most likely be in the same scenario in the very near future. Or worst yet, you will achieve the goal and be miserable. Meh, no thanks. 3. Does the goal align with your values? People, including myself, often make goals that really do not align with our values. This is evidenced by all the behaviors and priorities that don’t reinforce the goals. This is not an attack, just a powerful statement that if your goal is not aligned with your value system already, what makes you think it will be different this time. I do NOT mean in any way that we can’t make changes to meet new goals. I wouldn’t be a therapist if I didn’t believe strongly in change. What I will say is that change has to start with assessing and identifying your values. Once you can hone in your values, priorities, and behaviors, it becomes much more natural. No one is excused from this process, least of all a therapist! I have given up on goals in my life because they were not right for me at this time. Two that come to mind are being in a director role and keeping a kosher home. These are two goals I WANTED to want, but in the end, they did not align with my value system at the time. They might again, who knows, but I shed those goals for now, so I can stop failing at them. A goal I have grown into is to be more organized. For about 25 years, I lied to myself about wanting to be cleaner, but I actually didn’t care at all about that. Now, being organized brings me joy, so the goal is met regularly and maintained. People change, values change, and so our goals have to change. With these questions, ensure your goals fit into your lifestyle, instead of the push-pull goals can cause. Befriend your goals so that they cheer you on instead of bringing you down. It will make all the difference!
WRITTEN BY Robyn Isman, LICSW Robyn Isman is a therapist focusing on befriending our anxieties. Robyn is also a mom of 3, business owner, and tie dye enthusiast.