Setting Goals is Stopping You From Getting What You Want

As we approach the end of 2017, all of the advertising around you is about to ramp up its calls for you to focus on preparing for 2018, to start setting goals and new year’s resolutions. (Is it just me, or does legit everyone publish a diary/journal now?)

I know that the conventional business growth wisdom is “Set goals! Achieve them!”. I used to believe in it. I set myself a ‘goal’ to make a million dollars some eight years before I actually achieved it. I set it year-on-year.

But it wasn’t until I let go of it that I actually hit a million dollars and above.

Look, here’s the thing: just because you set yourself a goal doesn’t mean you have the knowledge or capacity to achieve it. More importantly, it doesn’t mean you have the emotional or physical knowledge to deal with achieving it.

We’ve all be trained to fixate on the moment of attainment – the triumphant moment in every Hollywood movie that lets you know the story’s coming to an end – rather than the ‘what comes next’.

Making a million dollars was the most stressful thing that ever happened to me.

I’d never seen that kind of money in my life. The most money I’d ever been on before I started my business was $60k. There was no course, no coaching program that was like “HEY, now you’ve got massive amounts of money, here’s how you deal with it, both technically and emotionally!” (I’ve since built that program so my clients don’t have to deal with it on their own).

Short of maybe going and doing an MBA, there’s no support.

Yeah, yeah, cry me a river, right? Poor old Leela needs support for her millions of moneys. WAAAAAAAAAAA!

But, you see, that’s the thing. That attitude is everywhere – including in your own head. You feel guilty for feeling stressed out. You can’t talk to your family or friends about it because they wouldn’t get it. In my case, even my partner was in my business and he needed to feel confident in order to make sales, so I had to be careful about what I shared with him. I felt alone, and I didn’t know what to do.

I made a lot of mistakes and lost a lot of money – but I took the lessons, educating myself in the process, and as time went on I got better at handling things.

I’m still not a financial genius. I say yes to more projects than I should. I spend a lot of money on doing cool stuff that doesn’t necessarily have an immediate pay-off (but does tend to have a long-term brand outcome).

My point here is not don’t make a million dollars. Sure, if that’s something you want, go for it. My point here is that sometimes the very goals you set are the things that make you the most miserable.

Further, you’re going to hit the goal when you hit it and, let’s face it, you know that. You know that just writing down ‘make $500k more’ or ‘lose 20kgs’ or ‘travel the world’ isn’t going to get you those things.

How many of your goals from the start of 2017 did you actually achieve?

Out of them, how many would you still have achieved if you’d never written them down?

My guess: most of them.

And you know why? Because those things you’ve achieved, I would put money on those being things you were already in the process of achieving.

If your goal was to lose weight or gain muscle mass and you achieved it – I guarantee you didn’t find a new trainer, start from scratch with a system you had never engaged with, in order to get those results.

I’ll bet you were already engaged in that work.

If your goal was financial and you achieved it, I would be willing to bet that you weren’t starting from nothing and setting big hairy audacious goals. You were already engaged in the process of the work.

Seeing a pattern here?

The Human Potential Movement Is Mostly Bullshit

Look, here’s the thing: there’s a whole industry set up to sell you the idea that you can have everything you want if you just believe in yourself.

The seminars, books, and programs work off the basis of selling you that all you need to do is think of a goal, write it down, take a tiny bit of action and, TA DA!, the Earth shall be yours!

You’re taught to see life as a smorgasbord of opportunities and achievements that you’re able to pick and choose from.

Let’s face it – this is mostly BS. You can want and believe and be truly in resonance with being the greatest opera singer of all time, but if you’re tone deaf, that’s not going to happen.

We don’t get everything we want just because we set goals and believe in ourselves.

Soz (not soz), but that’s a fairy tale.

It’s time to be an adult who faces up to reality.

This is not to say you can’t achieve incredible things.

I’m a working class girl, with a long family history of working class, blue collar workers. I grew up in a housing commission suburb in Brisbane. The schools I went to weren’t great (although I was blessed to have some amazing teachers who really believed in me). I dropped out of University 3 times. I spent most of my 20s roasting my brain with drugs. Thanks to a life that’s been fuelled by adrenaline, I have always had problems with my weight. I’m covered in tattoos. I listen to punk music.

I am not the picture you would expect of the CEO of a multi-million dollar consulting company.

And yet, here I am.

With commitment and dedication you can achieve incredible things. What I’m saying is focusing on a preconceived outcome – a goal – is not the way to achieve those things.

The Secret To All Achievement

The secret to all achievement is not to focus on outcome, but to focus on process.

It sounds deceptively simple, and it is.

When you’re focused on the process of becoming excellent at what you do – whether that’s your profession, or running a business generally – all of those goals you want to achieve? Over the years they’ll either become irrelevant or you’ll achieve them, often without even realising it. I can’t tell you how many of my clients have hit $1M and not realised for months.

Why doesn’t anyone teach you this?

Because it’s not sexy.

It’s not a three-step system.

It’s not something that can be achieved in a three-day seminar, from reading a book, or a listening to a podcast.

It takes time. There’s no shortcut. And no – the answer is not 10,000 hours. That was a misquoted statistic.

In fact, in my research, time and again (including in the paper the 10,000 hours concept came from), the answer is more like 10 years.

But that’s hard to package and sell.

“Join my program for 10 years to get your goals.”

No one is buying that. Which is sad.

Of course, that said, people once told me the same thing about selling prospects on the idea that they need to sell. I’ve made a career of taking hard, true concepts no one wants to buy and turning them into industry standards. There’s a reason they call me the High Priestess of Hard Truths.

There’s so much focus on what we can do in a year, that we’re forgetting the obvious – we literally have the rest of our lives to do this work.

And if that doesn’t excite you – maybe you need to think about a career change.

“Release Yourself From The Expectation of The Outcome”
– Deepak Chopra

I often meet entrepreneurs who have taken the human potential movement at its word and set those big, hairy, audacious, goals.

They’re going to go from $100k to $1 Million in six months!

They’re going to build their app and sell it for $10 Million next year!

They’re going to IPO and make a billion dollars overnight!

From the literally tens of thousands of entrepreneurs I’ve heard these same goals from over the last 15 years, I can think of one or two who’ve actually achieved it.

Because setting goals isn’t actually how you achieve anything.

The fact that you’ve got your face scrunched up right now and you’re getting annoyed while you read this should be an indicator that there’s something to what I’m saying.

Resistance is always a compass.

Why are we so afraid of letting go of goal setting as an activity?

There are multiple reasons.

One is that we’ve been taught to conflate goal setting with achievement. Setting goals allows us to feel like we’re achieving something, even if all we’re achieving is writing down a list of things we never do. In this way, goal setting can actually stop us from achieving our goals.

Another is that we all live in this constant state of cat-like readiness, gripping the wheel with white knuckles, juggling the balls faster and faster, afraid to ever let go or let a single thing slip from our grasp.

Aren’t you exhausted?

Aren’t you over that already?

I get it – they told you to go hard or go home. So you went hard. But, like, what’s so bad about going home? It’s 2017 kids, I don’t know about you, but my internet is better at my house than at the office. My content writing is just as good – if not better – when done from bed instead of a café (BUT HOW CAN YOU BE A REAL WRITER IF NO ONE SEES YOU WRITING?!).

We’re all so petrified of losing our place in line that we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. When you physically collapse under the weight of everything you’re carrying and you literally can’t do it anymore, that is when you really lose your place. Oh I know, I know. You’re strong. That happens to weak people, never to you.

I used to say the same thing. And I was right for 11 years. And then in the 12th year I collapsed. I still worked, of course, because I’m a psychopath, but I hated and resented everything. I literally had a song I would sing called the “I Hate Everything” song, which consisted of the lyrics “I hate everything” followed by a list of things I could see around me, all of which I ostensibly hated.

But here’s the really funny thing:

I’ve spent this year letting balls drop. Letting go of the wheel. Being selfish and asking other people to help me. Making the staff do things I don’t want to do.

The outcome?

Record-breaking income.

But my only goal for 2017 was to nurture myself, so HOW IS IT POSSIBLE I’M MAKING MORE MONEY!?

This is exactly what I’m going to be sharing at the event I’m running in December.

It’s all about how my clients and I have been implementing these strategies for the last five years, and the difference its made in our income, our relationships, our lives and our general enjoyment of life.

It’s about freeing yourself from the bullshit you’ve been fed and finding a strategy that works for you.

It’s not about giving up on achievement – quite the opposite, most of my clients are doing more money year-on-year – but about finding a method of sustainable growth that works for you and allows you to build the life that you want.

Learn more about the 8 Percent Leadership course here.

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