Goalsetting is the kind of thing that has been written and commented on by all sorts of entrepreneurs, business coaches, and self-development authors, more or less since time immemorial.
Increasingly, though, there’s been an apparent pushback against the idea of goalsetting, from certain quarters. Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comics, has — for example — argued that “goals are for losers, and systems are for winners,” with the idea being that everyday habits count, but goals just lead to frustration.
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Why you need to set goals for yourself
While there is merit to some of these arguments and discussions, there are also plenty of reasons to think that goalsetting is actually crucially important.
1. Because everything you do in life is going to be goal-driven
When it’s stripped down to its most basic components, the idea of a “goal” is simply that you want to intentionally achieve or obtain something, that you don’t currently have. Normally, when we think of goals, we tend to think of business-centric and metric-driven targets, such as achieving a certain quarterly increase in earnings.
But the bottom line is that your actions are being “goal-directed” even when you simply go the kitchen to prepare yourself a meal. It’s simply that, in this case, the goal isn’t consciously defined as such — and yet, all the components of a goal are there.
You experience hunger. You want food. You don’t have food. You initiate a sequence of actions to obtain food.
Simply put, there is no escaping from goals. Goals will, always, define your life. So you may as well take a conscious hand in the process of goalsetting.
2. Because life is a lot more interesting and motivating when you are pursuing goals that excite you
There’s one clear problem with the idea of abandoning ambitious goalsetting altogether, in favour of focusing entirely on daily routines: life just becomes far more boring and monotonous when you do so.
Pursuing goals is exciting. It’s uplifting. It keeps you interested in the future, and optimistic about what it might hold. If you want a new car from Century Cars Limited, and set yourself the goal of saving up for one, the process of earning and budgeting your money becomes substantially more enriching.
By contrast, doing things day in and day out “just because” — whether that means saving money, or working out — is not likely to add much texture or excitement to your life.
3. Because when you don’t aim for a destination, you are likely to wander in circles ad nauseam
Life is, obviously, tricky — and people who achieve significant things always have to work hard and overcome a significant amount of resistance to get what they want.
When you don’t aim for a specific destination, there is nothing to guide your actions and give them coherence. As a consequence, you are likely to stumble around in circles instead of making substantial progress.
Goalsetting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll achieve all of your goals. But that’s not really the point. Goalsetting provides structure, so that you can actually grow in a consistent manner.