So often we merge together our personal development and our goals, it happens so easily. It starts with saying I’ll be happy if only I got the promotion. I’d feel pretty if only I lost 10 pounds. I’ll know I am smart if I get an A. Then we set out our plan by listing all the things we are going to do to reach our goal. Believing that we would already have the goal if only there was something different about us, we apply self development as part of this plan. By doing this we are telling our mind that “if we develop ourselves we can get what we desire”. This is where the danger begins. We’ve now tied our self belief to an external goal. The more we work on the goal, the more effort we put in the more we solidify this tie in our mind.
When we reach our goalInterestingly when we do reach our goal, we will have a personal high. We feel pride and recognition that our hard work paid off. However, this will usually last for only a short time. Once we have what we want we may start to recognize that we personally don’t feel any different. We may find disappointment when that promotion came with less personal time with our family. Or when we look in the mirror we don’t see the change the scale is reporting. And possibly feel the pressure to keep the the momentum of that A. Now what’s really going to blow your mind, once you get that promotion how long will it take to want the next one? It’s a cycle that will continue as long as we dangle the carrot for ourselves.
When we miss our goalInevitably if we don’t reach our goal instead of looking at what was in our way, or even asking for feedback where possible. We go internal, it starts by looking at what part of your plan you missed or where we went wrong. We begin to feel bad about ourselves, we are disappointed which turns to feeling like a failure. The result of these feelings over time turn into lowered self image and ultimately depression.
Breaking the patternBy separating our self worth from our goals we preserve our ability to know our self worth exists independent of external goals. Here are 3 filters that have helped me with preventing this tie.
- Review your goal action plan for personal development opportunities vs actions or skill building towards your goal.
- Be clear on the goal you want and what will change, is any of it described by how you will feel?
- Ask yourself how will you feel if you do not reach this goal.