Why Goal-Setting Doesn't Work

Why Goal-Setting Doesn't Work

At one time or another, we've all done goal-setting like this: 

Step 1: We've chosen a finite, tangible goal.

Step 2:  We've set out to achieve that goal, no matter what.

Step 3: We've achieved it.

Step 4: We're left thinking... that's it?

At best, we're left feeling unsatisfied. At worst, we've completely fallen off course, careening toward an inevitable dead end.

This isn't an argument against hustling hard for your dreams. And this isn't even an argument against tangible goal-setting. But sometimes, when we've really fallen out of alignment, it's because the goal we set was insufficient, disconnected or simply a shadow of what we actually wanted. Our GPS worked, but the destination was wrong.

So how can we reframe the goal and get where we really want to go?

(CAUTION: Reframing does not mean watering it down or playing it safe. In fact, many times the goal we've set isn't big enough.)

Here are five ways to reframe your goals to feel purposeful, attainable and passionate:



Instead of chasing authority, chase leadership. Authority is about taking a position of power, leadership intrinsically already has power in it. And besides, real leaders don't want to take power, they want to give it away. They want to empower others. So instead of trying to climb in the ranks, what if you sought to embolden those around you? Chances are, you'll end up getting that position of authority anyway, but it won't matter. You'll have already stepped into your rightful role as a leader.


Instead of chasing dollars, chase opportunities. Chasing a bottom line that isn't purposeful is the quickest way to burn out. Ask yourself, why do you want to be a billionaire? Instead of fixating on how much money you can make, what if you fixated on the least amount of money you need to have the experiences you want to have? Use your money goals as a way to create opportunities in your life to connect and expand. Because of the way energy and currency flow together, as you begin to value opportunity more than cash, chances are you'll find yourself making more money. Money is not a bad thing, but THE intention, or lack of one, is going to make that money a blessing or a curse. Tweet this.


Instead of chasing followers, chase what's interesting. The number of followers at the top of our Instagram bio leads many people down a path that wasn't meant for them. It's a slippery slope that seduces us to think external validation will somehow satisfy us. What if instead of followers and Instafame, you chased what interested you? Spending your time fixated, curious or passionate about an idea or concept is time well invested. The hours turn into days and days turn into an inspired life. If you are really interested in something and you take the path as far as it leads, you may inadvertently end up creating a following anyway. But it won't matter. Because you'll have felt fulfilled and energized all along.


Instead of chasing the ability to quit your day job, chase focus. What? Focus? Instead of a day job-free life? YES. Here's why: "not needing a day job" is an arbitrary marker of an arbitrary definition of "success." In other words, your need or un-need for a day job doesn't mean anything. Instead of fixating on whether or not your creativity/passions financially support you or not, fixate on focus. When you focus on your creative goals, knowing how and where you want to move forward in your passion, the day job becomes a support for your work. You'll get clear about what kind of day job you need. The day job will work in service of your larger purpose in life. Don't hunt down a day job-free life. Hunt down your unabated, dig-your-heels-in motherlovin' focus.


Instead of chasing a deadline, chase longevity. Listen, you were not meant to be here for a one and done success. You are here with a lifetime of purpose. Setting deadlines for anything from becoming CEO, to getting married, to making your first million is missing the bigger picture. What if you calculated your success by the number of wholehearted years you rack up? What if you chased soul-satisfying practices—meditation, morning rituals, discipline, building a tribe—so you knew that when hard times came (because they surely will) you'd be fortified by your intention to last? Last, Dreamers. Don't just succeed. Last.

The conclusion is this, tribe: redefining your goals to align with your inner spirit is a bigger investment than any other strategy you could possibly use. Take the time to think through what goals you need to drop and what goals you need to chase. It's time for you to step into your greatness.

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