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Why People Are Afraid of Setting Goals

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Setting goals is an effective way of helping picture what we want to achieve and what we want our lives to be like. We can then move toward those images in an intentional way. We derive many other benefits from having goals as well.

  • Goals provide a positive expectancy of the future
  • Goals stimulate our personal growth and development
  • Goals help us to focus on the desired end result and give us the motivation we need to bounce back from setbacks and disappointments
  • Goals facilitate “future thinking”—a way of looking ahead and anticipating future needs and wants
  • Goals provide a framework for making decisions
  • Goals that are clear and purposeful help us avoid getting sidetracked by someone else’s agenda

Why people are afraid of setting goals

Despite these benefits, many individuals are reluctant to set goals. Often it is because goal setting has been ineffective for them in the past. They miss their targets and then become disappointed and discouraged. For others, setting goals creates internal stress. They have a hard time mentally switching an idea or a dream from the “want to” category, to the “have to” category. They then begin to feel pressure to perform and experience fear of failure.

I have found that even if I do not meet my goals, I still end up in a better place than when I started. It’s important to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Nonetheless, goal setting is an essential component of living a prosperous financial life. In my role as partner, guide, and educator, I help my clients adopt a fresh perspective on how to set goals and how to align their financial goals with their personal values and priorities.

Tips to help increase the effectiveness of your goal setting strategies

Your goals must be meaningful to YOU. Lou Tice, who founded The Pacific Institute and created the Investment in Excellence program, teaches that goals themselves have little value unless they bring depth and meaning to your life as you work to achieve them.

  1. Know what you want. Make sure the goal is something you really want. If your goal is something someone else said you should do, or is something you feel like you need to do, then it is unlikely to motivate and inspire you.
  2. Build an image of the end result. Make it a practice to visualize reaching your goal. Continue to build a stronger and clearer picture in your mind. You will naturally move toward that which you think about.
  3. Ask yourself if you are ready for change. Consider what life will actually be like when you achieve your goal. Are you ready to accept the end result? Often individuals do not achieve their goals because subconsciously they do not want to deal with new circumstances or their self-image does not allow for the change.
  4. Is there a conflict? Evaluate whether or not your goals conflict with one another or with the goals of someone close to you. This knowledge, even on a subconscious level, can prevent you from moving towards your goal. Once you acknowledge the conflict, then you can look for ways to resolve it.
  5. Decide on a timeframe (maybe). You may have goals where target dates and deadlines are appropriate and motivating. Others should not have a deadline because a time limit could cause stress and decrease the joy of the journey. For these goals, deadlines can stifle creativity and possibility thinking.
  6. Make a wish. Goals often begin as a “wish” for yourself, for your family, for your job, for your retirement, for your community, and so on. It is your opportunity to dream BIG. When you dare to dream big, you step out of your current reality and open up your awareness to resources, solutions, and opportunities you never thought were possible.
  7. Until an individual is able to specify what they want and why they want it, he or she will be vulnerable to losing sight of an established, but ineffective goal. As a financial life planner, I facilitate a meaningful and personal goal-setting process. This allows my client(s) to self-discover their own version of an ideal financial life so that we can create a financial plan they are excited about.

It took me two years to make my dream of launching my own financial planning firm come true. My journey did not start with a hard deadline but rather a dream and a vision which naturally became my focus.

Do you have a plan to make your dreams a reality? 

Thanks for reading. Visit us to learn more about how Green Mountain Planning can specifically help you.

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E: nestor@greenmountainplanning.com

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About the Author:
For more than a decade, Nestor has helped his oil and gas professionals define their personal financial values to help build a plan that centers on rewarding outcomes. The journey, he believes, is every bit as important as the destination. He established Green Mountain Planning as a fee-only financial firm to avoid the pitfalls and conflicts of interest found in other agency settings. “I work for you, not any company or product.”

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