the Ugly Side of Goal setting

The Ugly Side Of Goal Setting: 4 Free Tips On Achieving Your Dreams Your Way

Have you considered not setting goals this year? Do you sometimes wonder if goal setting is important? This article will be addressing the ugly side of goal setting.


I have gone through different emotions on setting goals. And here is what I have discovered. 

Some goals are worth setting, while others are not.

Many of us want to have a fresh start in the new year by setting goals. They could be Financial, health, emotional, or social goals. 

And every article you read just tells you to set goals and how they are very important in life like there’s no other option.

But we rarely talk about the hardships we face on our journey to achieving these goals. In most cases, we only talk about the WINS.

So, are goals bad? No, they are not. It’s just that they come with what I call an ugly side of goal setting that might suggest you may be better off without them sometimes.

Here’s the ugly side of goal setting that people hardly talk about. 

Goals are only motivating when you have received positive rewards

When we set goals, we are informed that the one-way ticket to successfully achieving goals is by making them (SMART) specific, measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and time-bound. But what if those characteristics are precisely the reasons our goals backfire. 

Take an example take an example of a 5-year LONG TERM financial goal you set is to have $50000 in your bank account so you can deposit on the house, so you are to set aside $10k a year. 

However, what happens when you lose that job that you’ve been relying on or something happens along the way that depletes your savings accounts to zero? 

The ugly side of goal setting is tying goals to accomplishment. These days, on social media and in our friends’ circle, an individual cannot be considered successful unless goals are achieved. 

2020 and 2021 were a bit hard for me because I failed to meet some of my financial goals, and at times, I interpreted it as a failure. Even though I may have excelled in other areas of my life, improved MY lifestyle, improved my relationships, improved my professional skill set in the process, I still walked away feeling like a failure. 

And when you repeatedly fail to achieve your goals, your motivation goes downhill( another ugly side of goal setting), and you’re going bound to give up at some point.

In my case, I decided to re-evaluate and push some goals to the next year. 

Goals can create unhealthy competition

Goals in Life

If you rely heavily on goal setting, you might lose track of what led you to create the goals in the first place.

 Sometimes we get sidetracked by jealousy, whether it originates from your close friends purchasing a home, getting that job with higher pay, or maybe she /he hit that weight loss goal that you haven’t met yet.

We can become so focused on “winning” and lose sight of the fact that winning was not the point. We did not need to beat our friends in order to achieve our goals. 

Once we decide that a person is a rival, we become more worried, threatened, and anxious the more we try to imagine what the other person is thinking. 

We may even try to harm or sabotage our “competitors” in advance. In their effort to sabotage our friend’s success, we end up sabotaging ourselves.

This form of competition is unhealthy because it is driven by extrinsic motivation ( a need for validation from outside sources) instead of intrinsic motivation( what truly makes us happy). Without this validation, you might start feeling inadequate.

You then begin to compare yourself to others, always looking out for recognition from friends, social media, or colleagues. This is another ugly side of goal setting.

Setting goals destroys creativity

Another ugly side of goal setting that no one talks about , is that goals sometimes destroy creativity.

There’s no question that if I don’t set goals, I am quite more creative.

Whenever I have set specific SEO goals for blog posts, it takes me much longer to write an article because I m limiting my thinking in a box and find myself getting stuck on finding what topic to write about.

Creativity is about uncovering new things that you didn’t plan. So when I don’t set goals, I have an endless amount to write about, I am happy, and my creative mind is in overdrive. 

In fact, I get in my creative space where I feel I can get most of my ideas out. 

Not Meeting goals? These are 4 Tips On Achieving Your Dreams Your Way

While setting goals for yourself might seem to be a bad idea, you can find your flow and achieve dreams your way.

Here is how;

1. Consider if your goals are too specific.

If they are, then ensure that your goals are comprehensive and include all of the critical components for your success (like values, happiness, and quality) because sometimes we forget what was once important to us.

Also, try to be open to what might actually happen instead of what you want to happen. It feels good to find what you’re looking for when you’re not looking for it. 

When I landed my current job, I wasn’t looking for a job in the finance sector. I was looking for a job that fit my qualifications and a company that had the same values as I DID while offering a salary I knew I deserved.

I try not to limit myself to very specific details sometimes; rather, I choose to enjoy the process and look forward to where that might lead. 

So as you make your goal plans, understanding your preferences and what you want is vital, and it’s how you avoid making mistakes. 

Don’t let your values get lost, which usually happens, when we say things like, ‘two years from now, I will be the Assistant Manager”. In my view, it is important to work towards seeing progress in your career but avoid getting too strategic; that takes out spontaneity.

2. Choose Inspiring Goals 

I personally don’t think that goals should be set at the most challenging level possible to inspire effort, commitment, and performance; however, they should be inspiring enough to motivate you into achieving them. 

Goals that are much easier to achieve and measure may be given more attention than other goals (such as quality), which in the end might not be helpful to you.

So practice daily habits that inspire you to be a better person every day.

3. Goals Must Be Your Own

Are you setting this goal for the public, are you setting goals because you want to be accepted in your social circle, or are you setting goals because you want to positively change your life? 

You will become more committed to goals that benefit you. Otherwise, you are wasting your time. Goals should be your own and what you want your life to be, not anybody else’s. 

Related Post: Questions to Ask Before Setting Goals

4. Timing Is Everything, Sometimes

Always set your timelines to account for delays and setbacks. Be sure that short-term efforts to reach a goal do not damage investment in long-term outcomes. For example, it can be frustrating when things take longer to achieve than you think they should, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Try to find the right balance between different areas of your life. 

Have you encountered an ugly side of goal setting or do you support the theory of goals? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments.

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