Why goal setting is boring

Author: Russell Smith
April 24, 2016

I’ve read many books on setting goals and they always come with very snazzy exciting titles such as: “GOALS: Achieve more than you ever thought you could” or “SETTING GOALS: Transform yourself into a super achiever” (*not actual titles!). We are told that the art of setting goals is the catalyst for achieving everything good in your life.

However, here’s the catch, which I’ve not yet ever read in any book on goal setting.

Goal setting is boring!

Mind numbing, brain crunching, 100% dull.

Here’s why?

There’s a famous 3 step goal process which goes:
Step 1 – Decide what you want
Step 2 – Work out what you need to do to achieve the goal and calculate the price
Step 3 – Pay the price

The goal setting part is step 1 and 2. Apart from the fact that step 1 is actually incredibly difficult in the first place, let’s assume you know exactly what you want.

Often when we decide what we want and we commit to setting a goal, two things happen:

a) We get excited, even euphoric
b) We start on the path to hitting our goal with real enthusiasm

So here’s the crazy thing. Both these things are bad.

Bad for you. Bad for your goal.

There is a fantastic book called ‘The Willpower Instinct’ by Kelly McGonical which goes into the science of willpower. One finding of the book is that the more euphoric you feel about your new goal, the less likely you are to hit the goal. Ouch!

UNLESS YOU DO STEP 2 – WORK OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL AND CALCULATE THE PRICE – THE CHANCES ARE YOU WON’T HIT THE GOAL!!!

This is the boring bit, step 2.

You decide on a goal but you then have to do the work to find out
a) how to hit it
b) work out what the personal cost to you is
c) whether or not you are able or want to pay the price

Calculating a) how to hit it, is bad enough. The trouble with goals is in the initial excitement, you have to put in the time to work out how to hit it and this can take time. With the initial excitement, spending more time on working out whether the goal can be hit and how it will be hit may not be that attractive.

But if you don’t do this BORING bit (and believe me……writing plans and working out how things can fail is very very dull) then your chances of hitting your goal is greatly reduced.

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