Welcome to The Living Room!

Welcome to The Living Room!

I'm developing this blog to foster a warm community of people interested in ideas, art, science and practice around personal development and flourishing.

I work as an executive coach, and founded a company whose mission is helping people to find success at work in a way that provides satisfaction across all areas of their lives (you can check us out at www.madeleineshaw.com.au).

Leadership, learning, the wonderful brain/body connection, presence, influence, emotions, thinking, effectiveness, flow and FUN.

I want to know more, and do more!

The world is our living room so let's get living.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Goal Setting Doesn't Work (Sometimes)

I just read an interesting post on PsyBlog about The Dark Side of Goal Setting. It argues that goal setting is overused as a magic tonic for performance, but that it doesn't work if:
  • the goal is too specific - because you lose sight of the bigger picture
  • you have too many goals - because you tend to focus on the easy ones, even if the harder ones are more important
  • your goals are too short-term - again, losing sight of the bigger picture.
I would add another point - the goal won't work when there are factors you haven't addressed that are holding you back.  This interference is often subconscious or unconscious.  For example, Andrew might have a goal of obtaining a promotion. However, if he is concerned that hours required in the new role will interfere with other priorities in his life, he may subconsciously or unconsciously hold back from succeeding. 

What does this mean in practice? 
Imagine you have set a goal of getting fit by going to the gym 3 times a week. You set it, and you set it, and you set it. And yet - you don't do it. Plenty of busy people manage 3 gym sessions a week, and we'll assume that it is physically possible for you. But you're not doing it. 

Just setting your goal and focusing on the actions you need to take to reach it isn't enough.  To bring about the change you want, you need to look deeper. What beliefs do you have about the gym? About fitness? How does the goal align with your values? For example, you might value time with your family highly, and unconsciously avoid the gym because it cuts into that family time.

Once you get these inner factors out, you can address them. Why do you want to be fit? Is it to have more energy for your family? When you understand your inner drivers, you can align your goals to them so that there are no hidden traps holding you back. For example, you might decide to get fit by going bike riding with your kids. You can get creative and design something that really works - for you.

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