I love goal setting. I love striving to accomplish something. I enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone to reach a new horizon, give birth to a new creation, achieve a new understanding, experience a renewed commitment…
My life is richer because of my love of goal setting. But as much as I love setting and striving for those goals, I will be the first to say that setting goals isn’t always good for you. There are times when goal setting becomes toxic. Sometimes instead of setting the bar higher, you need to set the bar down. Here are three signs telling you it’s time to back off on your goal.
1. You are forcing a goal
If you are forcing yourself to set a goal because you are feeling lost or feel like that’s what you are “supposed” to do, you need to stop. Stop rushing through the transitions. That discomfort you are feeling might be exactly where you need to sit right now. There is incredible understanding and beauty in that transition if you have the patience to let it unfold.
Make sure that:
- You are the one in charge of choosing this goal. This is your goal for yourself and not someone else’s goal for you.
- You aren’t going after this goal as a distraction. You aren’t jumping toward a new goal in order to avoid or deflect from something else.
2. Striving towards your goals feels stressful
If striving towards your goal induces feelings of pressure, overwhelm, anxiety, or depression— set the bar down. With goal setting, the anxiety and pressure can build when you 1). Have decided that attaining 100% of your desired outcome is the ONLY way to gauge your success and 2). If you fail at your goal, it means that you are a failure (and everyone will think you are a loser and laugh at you).
Make sure that:
- You aren’t comparing yourself to others, and you are setting more than outcome-based goals. Setting performance and process goals allows you to gauge success on progress as well as performance.
- You are the one in charge of your goal and not vice versa. This is your goal, you decide the meaning of it and you decide the place it has in your life. You decide your worth regardless of its accomplishment.
3. You immediately went after the next goal without acknowledging your previous accomplishment
If you are goal-driven (ahem, people like you and me), you need to be aware of not immediately setting the bar higher and going after the next goal without taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate what you just accomplished. The danger in this is 1). Feeling like what you are doing is never good enough and 2). Not giving yourself the opportunity to absorb the confidence that comes with acknowledging your accomplishment.
Make sure that:
- You take time between goals to pause and acknowledge what you accomplished and how far you’ve come.
- You celebrate your efforts in a deliberate way. Give yourself a pat on the back and recognize your efforts in the same way you would recognize the efforts of a teammate or family member.
Goals are meant to help you strive, to push you into new realms— they are meant to help you get motivated and prioritize. Goals are also meant to be challenging, exciting, and fun! Goals are not meant to be your judge and jury, and they are not meant to make you feel bad about yourself and tear you down.
If you are experiencing any three of these— back off. Immediately. You need to pause, set the bar down, step back, and reassess. When you set the bar down, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are giving up on your goal; it means you are giving yourself the chance to get grounded and ensure that you are setting your goal with intention and setting yourself up for success.