Set goals, then forget about them?

It’s goal setting time again! I’ve written plenty in the past about setting goals (such as here, here, here and here). I’m going to take a break from that this time to discuss what you should do after you set your goals.

It may seem obvious. Set a goal, get it in front of you constantly and chase it down! How hard is that to figure out, right?

Well, I’d actually suggest a different path.

There is evidence to suggest that always having the goal in front of you actually makes you less likely to achieve the goal or to do your best.

What happens if you set a hard goal and see it slipping away? It’s human nature to see the goal slipping away and consciously or unconsciously ease up. The goal is slipping away, why work so hard when you’re going to fall short anyway? Just go through the motions and take what comes.

Or you’re on track until you suffer an injury or some serious setback that should have you backing off the goal. Well, if you’re fixated on the goal and develop tunnel vision, you might just find yourself digging in to get the goal regardless of the consequences.

What happens if you are ahead of where you need to be for the goal? Again, it’s human nature to let up, play it safe and get what you were shooting for. This isn’t a terrible thing if the goal is everything, like if you’ve long been chasing a goal to qualify for Boston. However, you may end up selling yourself short if you find yourself in this situation.

Instead of focusing just on the goal, pick your goal, then figure out what you need to do to get there. Lay out the training plan, the race plan, everything it is going to take to get there. Then, forget about the goal and nail the plan. In short, focus on the process, not the outcome.

When we do this, first, we enjoy the process more because we can focus on being in the moment. Second, we are focused on taking care of business today, without worrying about tomorrow, so we’re less likely to fall off the path we’ve laid out. Finally, we also are less likely to get off track if we are ahead of or behind plan. If we’re focused on the process, we can continue carrying out the plan regardless of whether we are ahead of or behind target.

While it may seem strange to set a goal, then not focus on it, focusing on the process instead of the outcome has been proven to be more effective than focusing too much on the outcome based goal.

Give it a try. You don’t need to completely forget the goal, that’s just a figure of speech. However, try placing your primary focus on the process, not the goal.

2 thoughts on “Set goals, then forget about them?”

  1. EXCELLENT Advice. So many times I have found myself coming up short on a goal. I will get down on myself , then aggravated for putting so much pressure on a time and forgetting that I could be enjoying what I’m doing.

    1. Carmela, thanks. This is exactly what I thought of when I thought of this topic. I’m sure many of us have done the same, I know I have.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top