Goal-setting is a powerful tool that can lead to significant achievements when used properly. Unfortunately, many of us look at goal-setting incorrectly and it inevitably leaves us unsatisfied with ourselves and can even lead to self-sabotage.
The exact point where we go wrong is where we start substituting goals for a purpose. You want to drop 15 pounds? That’s wonderful. Why do you want to drop 15 pounds specifically? What do you think will be different in your life once you hit that arbitrary number? What happens after? This may be hard to believe, but people do not experience lasting satisfaction from reaching a goal. There is a fairly quick rush of relief and happiness that comes from it, but it fades quickly, especially in the absence of another marker to aim at.
We can only achieve long-term satisfaction through the dogged pursuit of a higher purpose; something that may seem unreasonably daunting at first glance, but is achievable so long as we break it down into segments and orient every aspect of our lives toward that purpose.
Your 15-pound weight loss goal, while admirable, should not be the end-all. It must be part of something greater. For example, maybe your higher purpose could be to ensure you can be the best parent you can be to your children. If you’re healthy physically, you’re more likely to be healthy from a cognitive perspective. Because of this, you’ll be able to keep up with your children when they play with you and you’ll be better able to guide them through the many obstacles they encounter in their lives because you can think more clearly.
The 15 pounds will then become just one marker in a series of tasks that will bring you closer to your purpose of being the best parent you can be. With this change in mindset, new doors will open in your psyche to help you continue to achieve your purpose that you may not have ever encountered before with just one short-sighted, singular goal.
This is just one example of what it means to work toward a higher, lifelong purpose, but there are innumerable ways to do it. It’s your job — intimidating as it may be — to determine that purpose, break it down into checkpoints, and put all your effort into achieving it.