Molly Cain, Contributor
FORBESWOMAN | 1/14/2014 @ 10:38PM
Ok, so you’re sitting there right now and you have identified one or more things you want for yourself or your future.
Perhaps you want to buy your first house. That promotion you’ve been pining after for years. A new job in a new company that actually appreciates you. The satisfaction of crossing the finish line of your first 5k. Whatever it is, you have something in mind. And you want it.
So how do we make these things come to fruition? Well, step one is to stop “wanting” these things and instead decide you’re definitely going to get them. You do that by turning them into goals.
Here is where I’d typically start talking to you about the goal-setting process. I’d give you a few steps on breaking up your goals into manageable pieces, then walk you through each. Maybe I will sometime. But not this time.
Instead, before you sit down to create the goals that could change you as a person or change the life you’re living today, I’d like to pull back the curtain on these goals you’re setting for yourself. They have ugly sides. Here are four of them.
Not everyone will support you (loudly). When I first decided to abandon my role in the Fortune 500 world to join Haul Studios, I came across this situation. While I feel truly loved by the people in my inner circle, some didn’t agree with my decision and they voiced it through questions like, “How will you eat?” and “What happens if this fails?” and “How long will your savings last?” and “Are you really sure you’re ready?”
I got a lot of questions that reeked of doubt. And while it was ultimately no one’s choice but my own, these opinions weighed heavily on my decision-making process. I wasted a good solid year of my life second-guessing the decision before I finally took the jump.
When we set goals for ourselves, we’re feeling motivated, confident and renewed. We know it may require a lot of work, but we’re ready, gosh darn it! And just as we’ve been taught, we tell people about our goal so we can set some accountability and get that precious support. Ask and ye shall receive, right? Ah…nope.
Set your goals with the complete understanding that not everyone will back you openly. And that’s ok. Generally it’s not malicious (they also may not even realize they’re not giving you the emotional backing you’re looking for). Know that if you’re not getting the support you crave, it’s not you. Most of the time, they are:
Fearful (that you will fail)
Jealous (that you might not)
Guilty (that they themselves haven’t done it yet)
All three of these categories do not matter. That’s their problem. Prepare for this and plan to push on.
You’ll be sacrificing something else. In The 6 Things You Should Quit Doing To Be More Successful, I share a key piece of advice I received from my yoga instructor. She told me that whenever we say yes to one thing, we’re saying no to another. This is never truer than when you’re setting goals.
Let’s say you decide to finally get in shape. So you set that goal. You hire a personal trainer at the gym or you go all in and join a fitness community like Camp Gladiator or Crossfit. Then you visit with a nutritionist. And finally, you get to work. What’s wrong with any of that?
Well, for starters, you have to create an entirely new budget with a very big section called, “healthy stuff.” Then you start getting a little dodgy about happy hours and dinner invites with friends because you need to avoid the temptations. And forget a dating life to show off that new body of yours, it’s nearly impossible to find someone who appreciates a 5am wake-up call.
Simple concept, but powerful. Understand that some of your goals, even the best ones, will mean sacrifice. Everyone eventually sacrifices something, but not everyone realizes it in advance. You’re ahead of the game if, while you map out your goals, you also think about and come to grips with the things you have to sacrifice in order to make them a reality.
It could derail you. Have you ever broken up with someone (or been dumped)? Been fired? Or experienced a major failure? If you’re not one to wallow, you take that kick in the pants and start to set some new goals to get out of the rut you’re in. But could these goals be derailing you?
Goals must be set intentionally. So if you set a bunch of them to distract yourself from what’s happening in real life, you will find yourself attempting to learn Spanish while training for a marathon, buying your first home and applying for a new job – and you’ve decided you’ll get this done in a month’s time. Because you’re just that awesome (or delusional, whatever). Do you seriously think you can give adequate attention to each of these major milestones?
Don’t get me wrong. These catastrophic life events have gifted me some of my favorite hobbies and interests. I do highly recommend you deal with grief and frustration by making changes that give you a boost of confidence. But if you select too many because you’re in a whirlwind, sloppy mess on your couch and don’t know what you really want, you’ll set yourself up for disaster.
It’s like throwing a bowl of noodles against the wall to see which ones stick. An interesting experiment, but a messy one. Pick one or two goals from your list so they become less of a distraction and more of what they are…goals.
It bites back. Just imagine crossing the finish line of an Ironman, an event so momentous in competitor’s life that they get a tattoo to commemorate it. How cool would it be to finally reach your goal weight? Or getting that coveted window office with the mahogany desk? Walking across the stage to get your graduate degree?
The biggest goals are sometimes the worst. Because if you’re really a bad ass, you reach them.
Big goals, the ones you’ve always dreamt of, require dedication, hard work, commitment, blood, sweat, tears…the whole shebang. If you’re someone who responds well to these requirements, you’ll get there. If you’ve held onto this dream for years, it happens because one day you suddenly decide you’re ready to donate those moments of frustration, exhaustion and deprivation to finally get there. It is because you care so much about yourself that you will, ironically, put yourself in temporary pain (literally or figuratively) to get there.
Then one day you do! And that’s where it goes downhill.
When you finally reach one of these goals, you crumble to the ground in victory (fast forward this video to minute 1:25). You’re spent. So you decide to take a break. A really, really, really long break. After all, you “earned it,” right? And who would judge you for this? Probably no one. They’re in awe of this accomplishment.
Now you decide to allow yourself a few extra slices of pizza. You’re comfortable sleeping in and skipping a few workouts. You stop reading the non-fiction books about that job you wanted (which is now yours) and decide to head home instead of attending the networking event.
You give yourself so much lenience as a reward, that the goal you so desperately wanted has now become your biggest enemy. Simply because you met it.
The best way to battle this is to always have a goal in mind (duh). Even after the big ones. Yes, take a break. But not a long one or you’ll lose all that amazing momentum.
Enter your goal-setting process with these evils in mind and you’ll knock ‘em dead.
Molly is the co-founder and Executive Producer of Haul Studios a startup helping online personalities build and monetize their brands. When she’s not at the office, she’s burning off her ADD at the gym, hanging out with her retired racing greyhounds, being zen in yoga or expressing unsolicited opinions on @MollyCain. You can find more from her at GlassHeel.com.