We are constantly told that we need to set goals. “Just set a goal, and you’re on your way to success.” I disagree. Goals are just ideas. Though having ideas is important, it’s a small part of the equation. Everyone comes up with a million dollar idea or product at some point in their life. 99% of these, however, never get made. The road to success is always in the effort and execution.
Let’s focus on consistency, not goals. The key is sticking 100% to whatever you said you were going to do. Even if it is the smallest of goals, once you set out to do something, see it through to the end. When you set a big goal and don't quite get there, you are conditioning yourself to be OK with not completing what you set out to do. "Well I tried, I worked hard, everyone fails, failure is part of growth." That’s garbage. We rely way too much on thinking that failure is OK. It promotes complacency and generates a pattern of quitting. Set the goal smaller, and get there. Put your blinders on, and finish no matter what. You are training yourself to be disciplined. It really doesn’t matter what the goal or outcome is at this point. Set small goals, but get in the habit of reaching the goal you establish.
Interestingly, setting smaller goals helps with the other side of the spectrum as well. Even if you are extremely focused and well disciplined, large goals may be counterproductive. This is something that I have struggled with for many years. I will set a goal, and no matter what, I see it through to the end. Such stubbornness can often times be inefficient and/or counterproductive - which I will realize half way through the process, but finish regardless. For example, I'll randomly decide that I will do a 48 hour fast of absolutely no food, only water. At hour 32, I have a bad headache, can't concentrate, feel lethargic, can’t get any work done, am not pleasant to be around, and can feel my body being catabolic (this is when the body relies on your muscles as an energy source instead of fat or carbs and muscles waste away). Clearly it is not beneficial in any physical way for me to keep going. It’s not like 48 hours has any specific meaning to my body. However, simply because I said I would do it, I finish. I have done this for many many workout programs, diets, classes, books, and other things I commit to. Many of these I would have been better off stopping half way through or earlier. Though it is certainly fantastic having a certain level of disciplinary control, it would be nice to use my time more efficiently and not hurt my body with extreme diets and/or workouts. Therefore, I now set smaller/shorter goals.
Focus on the process and the work, not in writing goals.