If you run a business, you’ve probably been told that you need to set goals.
And if you’re like so many business owners that I know, the word “goal” is cringe-worthy.
It sounds masculine and it feels like hustle, two things that you thought you escaped when you opened your own business.
And then there is the emotional baggage from decades of unmet goals to contend with too.
The unachieved revenue or weight loss goal. The 5, 15 and 30 day challenges never completed. The meditation habit never created.
Goals - who needs ‘em, right?!
Goals can cause trouble.
Before I continue, I must confess that I am a huge fan of goals - I set them, I achieve them, and I teach others to do the same.
However, there are pitfalls to be aware of because a well intentioned goal can quickly become a sneaky saboteur.
Buddha claimed that the root of human suffering lies in our attachments, our desire to have, our craving for something - a particular outcome for example.
And if you’ve ever set a goal, not met it, then felt terrible about it, you know exactly how attachment to an outcome can lead to disappointment and suffering.
While striving to meet a goal, it can be all too easy to focus so much on the outcome that we create a destructive energy within us. We can start clinging to plans and ideas that may need to be adjusted in order to support our highest good.
We might tell ourselves that if we don’t meet our goals we are going to be disappointed. Or, if we don’t meet our goals that it’s a reflection on our abilities as a business owner.
And in this way, we unintentionally, and very subconsciously attach our self-worth to the outcome - the achievement of the goal.
If we meet the goal - yeah - we feel worthy, everyone should bow to our amazingness. But if we don’t meet the goal, then wah-wa, boo-hoo, because we suck and we will never be successful.
How do you avoid this energetic pitfall?
Remember this one thing - make a sticky note, get a tattoo or paint it on your walls…
Your worth has nothing to do with your accomplishments!
You are amazing and worthy just because you exist.
But when you work with goals, it can be easy to forget this critical piece of information, which can cause attachment, suffering, anxiety and a nasty inner critic.
So, goal setter, beware.
The purpose of a goal.
If the word goal makes you squirm, call it an “intention” instead. Because that’s really what the purpose is. A goal is simply a succinct, clear, specific way to describe your intention.
Clarifying your intention and creating a vision for the future is critical because it’s the only way to direct your energy. Without this clarity, your energy becomes scattered (aka distraction) and it’s really difficult to get any traction in business.
Goals provide direction.
With the never ending onslaught of shiny balls out there, goals help you stay the course, even when that course is challenging you at the very core of your being.
The guidance goals provide is important, but guidance is different than focus.
Set the goal, create a plan to achieve the goal, but don’t focus on the goal. Instead, focus on being the most awesome version of yourself and serving others deeply.
When you put your energy into those two things, goals don’t just get met, they are often surpassed.
Remember, the goal is not the outcome - it’s there to guide you on the journey of creating your vision.
Goals, and your relationship to them help you learn about yourself.
Three months into business I set the goal to host a retreat. I booked the space, made the deposit and signed the contract. I owed the retreat center 10k and needed 20 women to register.
I had 3 clients and no email list.
Four months before the retreat, it was time to buckle down and learn how to market. I had my goal of 20 women and was naive enough to think that was an easy target to hit.
Every day I would set a mini-marketing goal, and every night I would feel like crap because I had successfully avoided doing any work related to marketing the retreat.
This pattern of setting daily marketing goals and then avoiding the associated tasks went on for weeks until my big ah-hah moment (thank you, Best Self Journal).
Knowing I was normally really good at staying on track and accomplishing my goals, I began to explore the root cause of my behavior, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I had been avoiding marketing tasks because they made me feel incompetent!
Sha-zam! I had cracked the code of my avoidance behaviors.
Thanks to a little follow up convo with my husband, I was able to realize that I wasn’t incompetent, marketing was just new for me.
Once I could identify the sabotaging belief, I could work with it and change my daily behaviors accordingly.
I got back on track, and I’m happy to report that I filled every single spot for that retreat!
So, goals aren’t just about where we want to arrive, but our relationship with them teaches us about ourselves and helps us to grow along the way.
The advantages of a goal.
Even the best manifestors out there, the law of attraction experts, know this one simple fact: you can’t create something wonderful if you aren’t clear on what it is you want to create!
Would you try to shoot an arrow at a target with a blindfold on? Of course not!
That would just be silly.
Trying to grow your business without goals is like trying to hit a target while blindfolded. Some call this approach “hope marketing.” You just sit back, relax, and hope that the clients will come flooding in.
Shocker - this isn’t the best approach.
A goal on the other hand reflects commitment. Commitment to your success, to your business and most importantly- to your clients.
Entrepreneurs that strive are inspiring. When you aim to create more in your life, you inspire others to do the same and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Goals also help you get control of your time. Without them, you become susceptible to chasing gurus and fads hoping to find the silver bullet for growing your business. But with clear goals, you can be a smarter consumer of all the junk out there.
You can look at someone’s offer and see if it’s aligned to your vision, instead of theirs.
If goals are so great, why are they so hard to meet?
Great question, smarty pants!
Here are some of the most common barriers that I’ve experienced and seen:
The good news here - all of these problems are totally solvable!
Once you learn to set goals that feel aligned to your values, and put the structures and routines in place to manage your time, it becomes much easier to identify the emotional sabotage and work with it quickly before it sets you too far back.
This means having your plans sidelined for a day instead of a week or more. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!
Your next steps.
Now that you know the purpose of goals, the pitfalls and the remedies, take some time to reflect:
Goals are not meant to be feared, stressful or avoided and they are not merely words written on paper. They are meant to inform your behaviors and influence your decision making - so you better make ‘em good!
If you could use a little more support figuring out how to work with goals in a way that gets results and makes building your business easier, I’ve got you covered.
Just click here to schedule a free get acquainted call.
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Carrie LaDue is a business coach and energy healer for awakened entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses and help more people.