It’s great to have a vision, an end goal of sorts. Humans need a focus, something to work towards, some vision that excites us. It’s the perfect motivator. Without it our lives would feel meaningless and stagnated.
However what I’ve come to understand through my own experience and research is to make the process of the goal your main focus, instead of the actual goal. Why do this? Because when you focus all your energy on the goal, it becomes a stressful experience.
Focusing on the end goal trains your brain to abandon happiness in the now
When the end goal becomes the main focus, you are not happy enough with where you are, you want to be “over there”. It’s reinforcing to your subconscious mind that you’re not enough as you are, that until you get there, you cannot be content.
This is a disastrous mindset to have because it’s teaches your brain the habit of “I’ll be happy when I achieve this” and never happy now.
Focusing on the end goal instead of on the process of small actions which gets you there takes you out of the present moment. When your attention is constantly out of the alignment with the present, it’s much easier to be susceptible to states of stress and overwhelm.
If you focus on doing the actions you need to do everyday to reach your goal, you wouldn’t even need to focus on the goal. Why not? Because you’re pretty much guaranteed to reach it anyway. Reaching the goal would come about on it’s own accord because you’re doing the necessary habits to get you there.
Focusing on the process of daily actions takes the pressure off
When you make the process your main focus, you actually relieve yourself of a lot of pressure. The reason why is focusing on the end goal can create massive overwhelm. It certainly did for me, I remember thinking that my head was going to explode.
Think of how much pressure you put yourself under by setting a goal for losing a pound in 1 month. If it didn’t happen by then you would get awfully discouraged, frustrated and would probably quite, as I know a lot of people have done.
Whereas if you focused completely on the process of what it takes to lose that weight, eating healthier, removing the unhealthy foods and exercising on a consistent basis, you would eventually reach your goal and without that stress which is created due to the attachment to the end result.
Breaking your goal down into bite-sized actions and focusing only on them is KEY to progress. Even though it seems logical to focus on the end result, it’ counter-productive. By switching your focus on the process, you can enjoy what you’re doing in the present and still make progress.
Of course it’s not a problem to remind yourself of your aim every now and then just so you know where you’re going.
Having a system is more sustainable than a goal
Like I said before, goals are great for pushing us forward. But what happens when we achieve that goal? I remember a friend of mine always saying “you’ve achieved this goal… now what?’ or “You’ve worked out and got muscular… now what?” And it makes more sense to me now then it did back then. There’s not much sustainability in that is there?
It would be much more enjoyable and fulfilling in the long run if we had a daily schedule of taking the actions we needed to take. So instead of saying you wanted to write a novel by the end of the year, you could focus on writing 500 words each day.
I read somewhere that Stephen King writes 2ooo words each day. This is how people make progress. They know that focusing on a big audacious goal will put them under enormous amounts of pressure, especially if they make it a deadline.
For many of us we set a goal, work really hard towards achieving it and then when we achieve it, we stop doing the things which helped us achieve it. This seems like a waste of time in my eyes, If you want to make something a life-long thing, it’s always more sustainable to have a system in place. That way you will always have something to feel motivated about.
Below is an excerpt from an article I found whilst researching.
The Problem With Goals
“Many professionals believe that the key to success is goal setting, but Adams takes a different approach. The problem with goals, Adams says, is that they lock you into a mental model that can potentially set you up for failure.
“If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you may wake up each day with failure in mind because the goal is hard to reach, and you are progressing only by small amounts,” Adams says. “It takes up all your willpower. I recommend that instead of a goal, you have a system.”
In the weight loss example, Adams says a person could instead spend time educating himself about choices, which gradually leads to selecting the right foods. Instead of striving for a goal, a person would then be arming himself with knowledge instead of relying on sheer willpower.”
If you’re someone who is not fussed with achieving a goal immediately, having a system in place will be much better for you. If you’re someone who is interested in attaining a short-term goal, then of course focusing on a goal will be the way forward. But still a system is still what comes out on top in the end. It’s stress-free and a lot more sustainable than a goal.
I trust you have found value in this post and understand why focusing on the process is more beneficial than just having a goal to work towards. Of course this is not about getting rid of your goals, that would be absurd. The idea is to focus our energy on the daily actions that we need to take to achieve your goal.
Where I got the information from