What If Your Goals Are Wrong?

Not getting where you want fast enough? Maybe your goals are wrong? Do you have the right goals for the right reasons? These are all questions worth getting the answers. A key aspect of motivation is goal selection. Choose the right goals, and two things happen: first, you are positively inspired to attain those goals […]

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wrong goals

Not getting where you want fast enough? Maybe your goals are wrong? Do you have the right goals for the right reasons? These are all questions worth getting the answers.

A key aspect of motivation is goal selection. Choose the right goals, and two things happen: first, you are positively inspired to attain those goals in a timely fashion. Second, once you attain them, your life has improved in some tangible way.

If you’re just setting out on a particular path, now’s a good time to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction and not about to waste a lot of time, energy, and possibly money. Or, perhaps, you’re already in the process but find yourself struggling to keep up with your goals. You’ve set them, but you don’t quite ever find the time, effort, or enthusiasm to reach them. Maybe worst of all, you’ve diligently plowed ahead, shoulder to the grindstone, reached your milestone, only to wonder why you don’t quite feel as triumphant as you imagined.

Choosing the wrong goals or even the right goals for the wrong reasons can have dire consequences, leaving you feeling confused, discouraged, and depressed.

Wrong & Right Goals

In our society, it’s pretty common for people to flat-out choose the wrong goals for themselves. We live in a confusing world. Likely, many of the goals you’ve absorbed through society, teachers, family, friends, co-workers, and the media aren’t necessarily beneficial or healthy.

 For example, you might want to be rich, famous, beautiful, or powerful. Lots of people believe that great wealth and the luxuries that it buys are the pinnacles of achievement. Or that fame will boost your self-esteem. It turns out this isn’t true at all. There’s abundant scientific and spiritual evidence that all of these goals are not only worthless but pursuing them makes our lives worse.

Wealthy, beautiful, famous, and powerful people aren’t happier or more fulfilled; in many cases, they are significantly less happy than “normal, average” folks. So if these are your goals, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. There is no emotional or spiritual payoff, only heartache.

Wrong & Right Reasons

Maybe you have the “right” goal, but if it’s for the wrong reasons. You’re as equally bound to be disappointed as you’d be in having the wrong end-goals. For example, maybe your goal is to cure cancer. That sounds noble and will certainly benefit millions of people if you achieve it. But if you’re primary motivation isn’t really because you feel deep empathy for the suffering of humanity. Still, mostly because you see curing cancer as a vehicle to achieve lasting fame, make a killing on the patents, or change the course of human history, you’re in deep trouble.

Why can the right goals for the wrong reasons be such a trap? First and foremost, when our reasoning is wrong, we are much less likely to stick to our plan.

Just as importantly, holding onto the wrong reasons to pursue our goals likely means we are very unhappy inside. We are missing the sense of true passion and purpose that is part of what makes life fulfilling. Focusing on the wrong kinds of reasons for pursuing the “right” goals comes with tremendous cost.

Right Goals For The Right Reasons

The right kinds of reasons for the right kinds of goals leave us feeling a deep sense of purpose and satisfaction, not just when the result is achieved but even while the process unfolds. We should feel that our lives are meaningful and connected to something larger than ourselves. There can be no true happiness or fulfillment without an accompanying sense that there is deep, personal meaning to what we’ve achieved.

According to BorderPolar, the “right reasons” might involve a genuine desire to help others or even society at large. We needn’t all pursue a cure for cancer to feel like our life has meaning and purpose. Whatever we are doing, even working as a sanitation engineer, can be imbued with meaning and joy. An actor might want to reveal something about human nature that adds insight into our lives. A journalist might want to uncover truths that help democracy stay protected and the electorate make informed decisions. A CEO might want to create aesthetically beautiful products and improve the lives of those who purchase them.

How Do You Know?

The only way we can truly know if we’ve embraced the right goals for the right reasons is by engaging in introspection. We must take time to ask ourselves important questions, question and reflect upon our decisions, and take responsibility for our own lives. Make sure you’re living your own, authentic life and not just the one that society, your parents, friends, co-workers, or the media tells you to.

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