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Why you probably avoid goal-setting and why you should do it anyway.

Goal-setting sucks! How the hell am I supposed to know what I want three years from now?! I don’t even know what the world will look like then!

I hear these words so, so often from my wonderfully amazing and oh-so-talented clients. Ahh….the love.  

And ya know what? They’re right.


Nope, you don’t know what the world will look like in three years…or one…or even in 6 months. Neither do I.

But that doesn’t mean goal-setting sucks.  It means you’re doin’ it wrong.

You suck at goal-setting.

You see, we tend to think of setting a goal…starting a business…living that life we love…as a finite thing.  Something with a beginning and an end.

Oh, but the only thing finite about life is the end. Like…the real end.  Until then, your life is anything but finite.

It’s an organic, dynamic, ever-changing journey. With moving destinations that evolve and improve over time.

You Horizon Changes

Let me explain.

<<  Imagine you’re here.

From here you can clearly see that you want to go over there….to that hill with the tree.

The shade, the apples, the cool green grass.

The land of Overthere is clearly a nicer place than the land of Overhere.

So, you head out on your journey.

You’re happy, motivated, focused and so excited as you travel and imagine what life will be like in the beautiful Overthere.

Finally, you reach the top of the hill, only steps from your beautiful amazing tree.

You take a deep, satisfied breath and glance out over the horizon.

And your heart sinks.

<< You can now see a new horizon.

From here, you can see Thatplace. And it makes your tree in Overthere seem pretty small and petty.

Thatplace is amazing and oh…wow! You never even knew a place like that existed!


You start to feel shitty about being in Overthere, when Thatplace is clearly so superior.

You start to doubt your abilities. You feel overwhelmed that there is so much traveling still to do.

And you can’t even see the path to Thatplace. 

You are a failure.

I have some special, encouraging words that I share with clients who find themselves in this no-good, awful place.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

Turn around. No, really…turn the fuck around and look at the miles and miles of treacherous landscape behind you.

Not too long ago, you were stuck in that awful place that you can barely see from this beautiful hill you’re standing on today.

You did that.  You saw this place you wanted to be and you started walking toward it.

You are not a failure.

You’re sitting here, right now in the shade, on the cool grass, eating an apple.  This is beautiful!!

The only thing that changed is your horizon.

Today, enjoy the place where you are. Acknowledge the achievement of the progress you’ve made.

Relax and breathe. This is an amazing place. And you came here. On purpose.

You can now see where tomorrow’s journey will take you.  That is also a wonderful gift.

Enjoy dreaming about the new place. Have fun planning the journey. And, when you’re ready, start walking toward Thatplace.

But rest assured, when you reach the top of that hill, your horizon will change again.

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2 Responses to Why you probably avoid goal-setting and why you should do it anyway.

  1. Kathy Henderson Sturtz April 25, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Absolutely love Love LOVE this post. It’s a conversation I have with far too many clients, too. Where they see failure I see the progress they’ve made and the choices they’ve committed to.

  2. Erica Holthausen May 1, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    It’s so easy to forget that where we are now, used to be our goal. It used to be that amazing, special, fabulous place we wanted to get to! This post reminds me of some of the points Michael Bungay Stanier makes in “Do More Great Work.” The wonderful and terrifying idea behind great work — and those goals we set for ourselves — is that it is always changing. What is great work today, mellows. It becomes good work. And good work is lovely, but it doesn’t have the same energy behind it as the great work. And then we realize that a lot of the great work is simply the journey from overhere to overthere.

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