Realz-World Resoluting —
Goals, The Worst Possible Way To Achieve Results

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Goals, The Worst Possible Way To Achieve Results
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Goals, The Worst Possible Way To Achieve Results

Realz-World Resoluting —
Goals, The Worst Possible Way To Achieve Results

Goals, The Worst Possible Way To Achieve Results -- why goal-setting is a godawful way of improving your life, and how to do it a little better (#blogpost #resolutions #goals #achieve #accomplish #goalsetting #youcandoit #productivity #timemanagement #mindsetshift) at http://ramonacreel.com/2018/01/08/organized-and-then-some/goals-worst-way-to-achieve-results/I’m sure you’ve heard this bedtime story before:

In 1953 a team of researchers interviewed Yale’s graduating seniors, asking if they’d written a clearly-defined list of what they wanted to achieve in life. A decade later, those social scientists tracked down the same cohort — they found that the 3% with specific goals had accumulated more personal wealth than the other 97% of their classmates combined.

Pretty strong get-off-your-butt-and-start-planning-so-you-don’t-end-up-in-a-box-under-the-freeway argument, huh?

Trouble is, this study never actually happened.

That’s right, it’s all bullshit. Even a dedicated team of search-happy Yalie librarians couldn’t track down a shred of credible evidence supporting this supposed investigation — not via student body accounts or administrative recollection (and ain’t nothin’ documented NOWHERE in any ivy-league recordkeeping).

So the official proclamation from the land of lux et veritas?

It has been determined that no “goals study” of the Class Of 1953 actually occurred.

Where then, did this falsehood begin? You can thank Grandpa Zig for infusing his motivational message with unsubstantiated floating-around-for-years-completely-lacking-a-concrete-data-source scuttlebutt. Footstepping after their mentor, loyal self-help-disciples like Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins built billion-dollar late-night-infomercial empires upon the repetition of a fact-check-free hearsay. So the first lesson (which you should have learned during the Trump administration) is don’t believe what you can’t verify.

“But it seems so logical,” you say, “so intuitive! It might still be true, fabricated findings aside — right?”

Nope — conclusion’s as bogus as the study itself. (If I’ve upset you with my sacred-cow-burger-making, I apologize. Here are some valid stats to help you through that cognitive-dissonance-adjustment period.)

A while back, one of my favorite doing-what-everyone-else-has-always-done-means-you’re-doing-it-wrong gurus Stephen Shapiro commissioned an ambition-versus-happiness research project. He found that:

  • goal-setting (the act itself, not any particular resolutionary aim) was inherently nerve-wracking to 36% of respondents — 52% had ironically adopted “reduce stress” as a start-of-the-year ambition

Are we just the dumbest fucking species on the planet, or what??

  • 58% admitted sacrificing in-the-moment-life-enjoyment for a longer-haul objective (believing they’d be rewarded with greater bliss crossing that finish line, enough to compensate for all that right-now-self-denial) — 92% then failed to achieve their make-everything-better-in-the-future plan

I feel as though either a facepalm or a round of weeping might be in order here.

  • 41% of actual mark-hitters were disappointed by a less-spectacular-than-originally-promised-post-completion-delivery-of-riches (like that dissatisfaction-tinged orgasm with the skeevy dude you picked up while trashed — the one where you crawl out of bed feeling guilty and in need of a shower)

Of course the problem couldn’t be an inherent flaw in the system. You must’ve chosen the “wrong” goal — time to pick a new one and immediately jump back on that wheel, like a good little hamster!

  • even more disturbing than chronic malcontent, 18% said their sense of determination had destroyed an important relationship (and 14% admitted doing something illegal/immoral in the name of success)

So changing your life is now about making you a WORSE person than you were before? Awesome.

Don’t misunderstand me — intention-clarification is never wasted. Numerous other studies have shown that quantifying an awfully-damned-vague-and-nebulous-thing-you-hope-to-accomplish is hands-down the best step toward completion. (Well, aside from taking actual, you know, ACTION — but that’s another blog for another day.) However, achievement in one arena is only meaningful if it supports your overall well-being. Who cares if you get skinny or make a lot of money or become famous — when you’ve screwed up the rest of your life in the process?

All the perseverance in the world don’t mean dick, if you let your aspirations make you miserable.

Remember children, goal-setting is like travel. When you end up hopelessly lost after wandering down some middle-of-nowhere-with-a-machete-wielding-serial-killer-at-the-end-of-it dirt road, you’ll appreciate that map. But a stubborn refusal to engage in itinerary-deviation means missing some great experiences (like a 5,000-egg omelette, or tarantulafest, or the world’s largest ball of string) along the way.

 

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    4 Responses

    1. Facts — what a concept! :-) So, in the end, it’s not goals that are “the worst” at all. It’s how you implement them that can have good, or terrible, or zero results. Right? Agreed! I love the travel analogy. Here’s my version of it: “You have a much better chance of getting where you want to go if you set your intention, define your goals, follow a plan, and visualize success. If you don’t have a plan, isn’t that like setting out on a road trip without a map? How will you know when you get there? I’m not suggesting that you should hop on a superhighway without any exits and drive like mad until you skid into your destination. The approach I prefer is more like motoring down a country road on a summer day with the top down…the road might meander a bit, and you are welcome to take side trips, and stop at scenic vistas, but with your map/plan handy you can easily find your way back to the main road!”

    2. Deb Lee says:

      Well, my bubble has officially been burst. I wrote about Zig Ziglar’s goal-setting process. I’ve mentioned this process and that study a time or two (or fifty gazillion) to friends and clients. Bummed that the study hasn’t been verified.

      That said, this gives me hope: “…intention-clarification is never wasted.” It doesn’t hurt to stop and check to see if you’re still on the right path and that it lines up with who you are (present-day). And, that overall well-being thing is pretty important too.

      Thanks for bursting my bubble, Ramona. ;)

      • Ramona says:

        Ha ha — sorry about that, but you know that’s what I’m here for! (Were you on the call for that “Breaking Down The Brain” workshop I did for NAPO-LA? Debunking the “left-brain-right-brain-quadrant thing” got me in a lot of hot water — but in a good way!) And I know you’d much rather our colleagues function off of actual FACT with their clients, rather than anecdotes and urban legends.

        Keep fighting the good fight, babydoll!

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