Why do we set goals? The importance of goal setting is actually detrimental to our overall happiness and well-being. This article talks about why you should set goals for yourself.
A Purposeful Discovery
One day a pretty witty guy made an important discovery. You might have heard of him – Aristotle. He proposed that humans are teleological – they’re goal setting and purpose seeking creatures who base the meaning of their existence on a particular accomplishment.
We’re all trying to achieve something, get things done, live up to certain standards, go somewhere or be someone – they’re all goals.
This teleological mechanism is an innate part of the human condition and it reflects in history, literature, folk culture all the way up to modern personal development and success.
Like the Buddha said: “Life is suffering,” but having certain goals to be working towards helps to bring more meaning into the human conditioning.
This is what allowed Viktor Frankl to survive the years of imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps. His search for meaning gave him the strength to carry on and resist the opposition. Those who didn’t find such resolutions died.
Why You Should Set Goals
Goal-setting is like your own missile targeting system. You realize what you want to accomplish, focus in on achieving it, come up with actionable steps and start taking action towards achieving them.
- Goals are the fire to our flames – they’re the urge that gets us out of the bed in the morning, without needing an alarm clock
- Goals the source of energy that keep us going when we’re tired or feel like giving up.
- Goals are the discipline that push us through resistance and fear.
- Goals are our why that ignite our path to glory and fuel every step we have to take.
Friedrich Nietzsche said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
The Framework of Goal Setting
This should be the starting point for doing anything that’s done for getting specific results.
You first come to terms with what you want to accomplish and then reverse engineer yourself from where you want to be all the way down to where you are right now.
Every easily recognizable milestone is a sort of mini-goal – a step along the way that marks your progress and lets you know you’re on the right track.
Aristotle was right that we’re always seeking to accomplish something. It’s how our evolutionary biology has influenced our psychology.
Goal-oriented thinking is what distinguishes the ones who survive in nature from the ones that fail to adapt. It’s how we crafted better tools, created social agreements, and built the civilization.
The Dangers of Not Setting Goals
But the implications seem to traverse mere coping with this existential turmoil.
Achieving the goal doesn’t seem to be nearly as important as simply walking the path and doing things towards the end result.
Studies have shown that people who don’t have anything to work towards in life tend to suffer from depression, lack of motivation, apathy, and inaction.
On the other hand, having even just a small WHY and a reason behind what you do appears to be a much greater source of human development than you’d think.
In essence, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Start With the Why
Whatever goal you choose to pursue, you should have an understanding of what you want to achieve. This can be difficult if you don’t even know what you want.
In that case, you should start with finding your why – the reason why you want to live an extraordinary life and what sense of meaning does it give you?
If you already know what you want to accomplish, you should still know your why.
- “Well, I want to start my own company.” – WHY
- “So that I could change the world for the better.” – WHY
- “So that there would be less suffering.” – WHY
- “So that the people around me could be happier.” – WHY
- “So that I myself could be happier.”
Ask yourself WHY 3-4 times and you’ll be amazed to discover what your real motives are.
Whatever goal you might set for yourself, it will always get traced back to happiness and fulfillment. It can be in any form, but what you seek is to be subjectively happy.
Set Your Goal and Take Action
Having goals gives you something to strive and work towards. It focuses your mind on a particular objective but it can cause some mental angst, especially if you haven’t yet accomplished the goal.
Whether or not you achieve your goal depends on how much effort you’re willing to put into the pursuit.
It’s really about the journey, not the destination, but we should still want to get the results. That’s why you have to take action on your goals, otherwise, they’ll always remain to be dreams – somewhere there out of reach.
If you need some motivation and assistance in setting goals and achieving them, then join my free 5-day action taking course that teaches you body mind empowerment and good habits of self-care.