Feel Free to Change Your Goals
This blog is dedicated to my sister who at a young age had the courage to change a major career goal when she realised it didn’t suit her, even though she felt a lot of pressure to see it through to completion. I’ve always admired her for making that decision and she has now truly found her place in the world as a result.
One of the ways we can sometimes get stuck mentally, is when we want to change a goal but feel that we should see it through to completion (even when it’s no longer relevant to our plans or inspiring us to achieve).
This can occur when situations change or we change personally. It can apply equally to business and personal goals (whether they are target sales figures, sporting achievements or a course of study) and although it makes perfect sense at this point to change the goal, it can also be difficult to do if the following thought processes arise:
“If I don’t finish this goal I will have failed”.
Choosing to continue with something that’s no longer relevant to our plans or no longer inspiring, is actually defeating the purpose of having a goal. Goals should inspire you so that they take you closer to where you want to be and they should remain aligned to your overall plans. Once they stop fulfilling this important criteria then they cease to be useful as a goal. For example, if you have chosen a marketing activity for your business and after a period of time discover it isn’t producing the results you expected (no matter how much you work on it or tweak it) then don’t feel you should continue doing it. If it’s not working review your learnings from the experience and choose something else that will help drive new business. Failing to complete a goal that’s no longer working does not make you a failure. It shows that you are thinking strategically rather than simply following a process you have previously set in place.
“If I don’t finish this goal other people will think I’m a quitter”.
Finishing goals that we set for ourselves is seen as a positive personal trait and understandably you may feel like you’re quitting if you decide not to finish it. However, whilst finishing something you start is something to be proud of, try not to let the possible opinion of others keep you stuck with the wrong goal. As needed explain the reasons for changing your goal so that the person concerned understands there’s a valid reason why you’ve decided to drop it and try something new. Be aware too that by sharing this with them you are setting a positive example of how to make changes strategically when a goal no longer fits.
“If I don’t finish this goal other people will think I’m making a bad decision.”
Others often have their own opinions on what goals suit us or what’s right for our business or our lives, however, only you can decide that for yourself. Be careful of setting or staying with goals to please others when you realise they’re a not a fit for you. It’s a good thing to listen to other perspectives and take advice (particularly from people with experience and knowledge) however, remember that for a goal to truly work for you it must be aligned to your plans and be inspiring otherwise you may struggle to achieve it.
“If I don’t finish this goal I may get into a pattern of not completing any goals”.
As long as you’ve decided to change your goal for the right reasons (i.e.: it no longer fits into your plans or is no longer inspiring you) not finishing it doesn’t mean you won’t ever complete a goal again. In fact by changing to a goal that you actually want to achieve, it will provide new inspiration that will help drive you forward. And by the way if the second goal you choose also ends up being one you want to change (because the situation changes or you realise you’ve chosen the wrong goal) then that’s not a failing either. Sometimes situations change rapidly and your goals need to as well or it could be that you’re still unclear about what you want to achieve and are therefore choosing goals which may not really suit you. If you are struggling to find the right goal then seek help from someone you trust who can be a sounding board for your ideas and plans.
“If I don’t finish this goal what else will I do?”
Sometimes sticking with an old goal that’s no longer relevant seems easier than trying to come up with a new goal. However, if you don’t let go of the old goal it will be difficult to discover what the new goal could be. Again if you are feeling a little lost about how to discover this seek help from an objective outsider or consider taking a short break from goal setting. This will help take the pressure off so you can think clearly and you may be surprised by what you find.
Sticking with anything when it’s no longer working doesn’t make sense, especially when they are goals which are designed to inspire you to achieve. When a goal is no longer working, don’t let the above thought processes stop you moving forward. Focus instead on which goals are relevant now and ditch the old outdated ones – you’ll be glad that you did!