Are We Limiting Ourselves By Setting Goals?

I’d like to share with you what’s sparked the conversation around whether or not we limit ourselves when we set goals in life.

This past Wednesday I headed out for a run without setting a specific goal for the distance I wanted to go. The week previous, I knew I had run on average 4km each time I headed out, and I was happy if I hit that point with this run but my objective was not to outrun what I did before, it was simply to pace myself. As I popped in my headphones, cranked up the grooving Spanish music mix I made, and waited for my Runtastic timer to count me down, I repeated in my head, pace yourself, pace yourself.

By repeating this mantra, I set my objective. Once my objective was set, my mind cleared, and with every stride I made, I continued to do what I set out to do, pace myself, passing 4 km, 5 km, 6 km, and finally giving myself that last push I needed to get to the 7 km mark. When I finished my run, I kept thinking to myself…every time I’ve set out to run without a distance goal in mind, I’ve always surpassed what I previously did, however, whenever I’ve set a goal, I’ve often come up short or struggled to meet it. Why is that? When we set out specific goals to achieve, we cap ourselves, usually below what we’re actually capable of.

Setting Objectives vs Goals

When we set objectives for ourselves, we quickly notice the realm of possibilities available becomes unlimited. In my opinion, setting objectives promotes incredible growth, breeds motivation, and sparks creativity.

Setting goals without objectives can sometimes lead to a sense of failure when we don’t reach the goal we’ve set out to achieve.

The Running Example

Without being aware of it, we typically set goals we know we’ll be able to meet, safe goals I’ll call them. Sometimes we’re our biggest skeptic, often not believing in our full capabilities which is why we tend to cap ourselves lots of the time; we don’t want to experience failure, so we put a goal in front of yourselves that we knew with almost 100% certainty that we’ll be able to achieve.

Bringing it back to my running example, if I had set my goal to run 7 km, I probably wouldn’t have reached it because it would have seemed like it was too large of a goal when previously I’ve only been running 4 -5 km max at one time. Setting a goal almost double of what I typically run would seem completely unrealistic if I was to let my mind take control of my thoughts and rationalize it. What I mean by this is that even if you do set an unrealistic goal for yourself, your mind will typically kick in and talk you out from it, which would ultimately lead to you falling short of that goal. On the contrary, setting our goals too low may make us feel that once we get there, we’ve done enough. In this example, if I said that day, I’m going to run 4 km, that’s my goal, it’s very likely that if I passed my 4 km mark and found myself feeling tired I may have stopped running shortly after, thinking that what I ran was the max I was capable of that day.

When I set out on the run, my objective is not to beat the distance ran the day before but rather, it is to push myself until it feels right. I think sometimes we limit ourselves by setting goals which is why I choose to set daily, weekly, and monthly objectives instead, for my stretch goals.

What’s a Stretch Goal?

When we have a long term goal in mind, for example, one of mine is to get my business fully up and running within the year. I’ve set the goal, but that’s not what is looking at me in the eye every day. I’ve set some objectives that will help me achieve this stretch goal of mine. This idea goes back to what I wrote about in my post on New Year’s Resolutions where I spoke about how making micro manifestations for the stretch goals you have will increase the likelihood of not only achieving them but sticking with them.

So…the next time you set out to do something, and you hear that voice of yours saying, ‘my goal is to…’ ask yourself if you’ve set an objective around this as well. Without objectives to our ‘big goals/stretch goals/manifestations’ we may fall short of what we’re really truly capable of. Setting objective rather than goals for things we want to achieve in the present will help ensure we are not letting our goals limit us.

Have you thought about what you want to achieve for the next week? What are your objectives to help you get there?

Leave a comment below or connect with me on IG @soul_essential_travel letting me know what your objectives are for the coming week!

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