Be careful what you wish for: setting goals you’re sure you want

Here's a peek at my 2010 goals, which focus on the essence of what I want in my life, not the specifics.

I read a story once — I wish I could remember where, so maybe you can help me — that helps shape how I set my life goals.

A woman was pursuing a new job and found a great-sounding position at a company she respected, and she began to pray with all her heart that she would get that job. She landed the job and soon found she hated it. She’d gotten her wish but was miserable.

The woman would have been better off to think about why she thought she wanted that job — salary, opportunity to learn new skills, chance for advancement — and pray for that.

Why? Among other things, once you’ve already decided your path, it’s easier to tune out the warning signs. In hindsight, how many times have you seen copious signals that you were making a bad choice? But at the time, you waltzed right past them, perhaps thrilled with your good luck to have gotten what you wanted most.

That’s why I write my goals the way I do.

I don’t say, for example, I want a promotion and a raise at my current company. I can’t see into the future to know if that would make me happy. But why might I want a promotion and a raise? Because I want to be well compensated for work that’s interesting, challenging and rewarding and to be valued by my managers. THAT I’ll put in my goals.

I don’t say that we love living in our current apartment. I say that we love where we live. What if we got an offer tomorrow to live in a place twice as big for half the price and it was stunningly beautiful? Do I want to be attached to the apartment we’re renting and not take that? No way. So my goals include loving our home, cooking in our kitchen and entertaining friends, and enjoying a vibrant neighborhood.

For me, writing my goals is an exercise in first thinking about what I want, then asking why why why? When I don’t feel I can get any deeper on “why?” then I write down that answer as a goal.

Among my goals:

  • I have close friendships that are a priority in my life. We spend time with smart, interesting, positive people who make us laugh and who inspire us. They enrich my life. They are positive people who inspire and uplift me.
  • I keep learning. I attend conferences and seminars, read books and seek out people who are on a similar path to help me stay intellectually stimulated.
  • My marriage with John is fun and vibrant. We enjoy each other’s company, we make each other a priority and we show each other we love each other in big and small ways.

(Yes, I do name John specifically in my goals. Hey, we’ve been married for nearly 10 years and he’s so stuck with me.)

What are your life’s goals? And why?

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Some past blog posts on goal setting:

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Categories: lifestyle, writer's choice

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18 replies

  1. I can so relate to this post. A littel over four years ago my husband was facing the possiblity of losing the job he had held for 19 years. I was terrified at the prospect. I prayed and negoiated with God with he would keep his job. He didn’t. In We opened our own business, I quit my job. Now, we make more money, have more control over lives, work together and are much happier, healthier people.

  2. Colleen,
    I love this post. I have never considered setting goals in this way, and am looking forward to digging deeper into my motivation. It makes such sense — I was recently reading a book on the psychology of happiness, and studies have shown that people who were happy before a catastrophic, disabling accident regained happiness after (following a normal period of mourning their physical loss) while miserable people stayed miserable or worsened. My point is, perhaps it’s not what you have (in this example perfect physical health) but how you’ve fashioned your life and having sound, healthy reasons for arriving at that place in life, that are more important for long-term happiness.

  3. You’re already doing the right things, Patty, by jumping into doing it instead of just wishing from the sidelines, visiting other blogs to see what good ideas you can borrow and enlisting your friends and family for moral support.

  4. Thanks Colleen. I appreciate this. My writing goal at the moment is just to keep plugging away and to get a handle on cyber publishing. It is a huge world that I am so unfamiliar with still. 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. Reflecting on my 2010 goals « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally
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  6. Are you willing to be really, really lucky? « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally
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  8. Guest post from Zen Habits: The Three-Day Monk Syndrome « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally
  9. Setting my 2013 goals with help from friends « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally
  10. How to figure out what’s next, a reblog from Lauree Ostrofsky « Newvine Growing
  11. Do you plan your life with the same diligence as a work project? « Newvine Growing
  12. Make real resolutions, not empty promises, this year | Newvine Growing
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  14. On hearing each other’s goals and responding,”you can do it!” – Newvine Growing

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