I am a goal driven person. I gain a tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction from setting goals and then figuring out how to work towards achieving them. In fact, sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't always have to be striving for something, and to take the time to cherish the many things I HAVE accomplished instead of always setting the bar higher (but maybe that’s another blog post).
When I pair the fact that I value integrity, perseverance, and commitment with the fact that I am extremely goal driven, ( … and I'm a Taurus … so I’m also stubborn) - it creates significant discomfort when I find myself in the position of needing to readjust my goal.
What's interesting to me is that sometimes people (me) will feel like if you have to adjust your goal it means that you have FAILED at your original goal. I was recently faced with this exact scenario, which was the catalyst for this blog post. The ability to adjust your goal is one of the most important factors in being successful towards your goals. Very few roads are without obstacles. When you're faced with having to adjust your goal it can create some discomfort. It can also sometimes create some denial, which ultimately either takes you off your goal path altogether, or further extends the length of time before you adjust and ultimately accomplish your goal.
As I found myself struggling with the question of whether or not I needed to adjust my goal, here are some of the things I asked myself:
- What is the real goal here?
- What are you really trying to accomplish?
- What do you want most from this experience?
- Why is it important to you?
- Is there another way to accomplish this goal?
- Is there more than one way to define success in this situation?
You assess your feelings of success and failure based on the expectations you have set. If you have certain expectations going into a situation and you suddenly find yourself in the position of not meeting those expectations, your automatic response can be to feel like you've failed. Additionally, it can feel like changing your expectations and not sticking with the original goal means that you're making an excuse to quit.
When your lived experience is not meeting up to the original expectation you set out for yourself it can affect your enjoyment of the process as well. It's like when everyone has read a book and LOVES it and you haven't read it yet. You've created these big expectations in your mind of what the book will be like and then you read it and it doesn't meet those expectations and you’re disappointed. What's crazy is that you may have actually enjoyed that book more if you didn't have those expectations going in. If you were open to the experience and let the story unfold.
That's what you have to do when you're on your goal path. You know where you want your story to end, but sometimes you need to be open to the experience, let the story unfold, and be willing to make some adjustments along the way. Your brain is constantly creating expectations and then sizing everything up in relation to the expectations you have set. The longer you fight against accepting what is happening in the moment, the longer it takes you to adjust. We try to force our current situation into what we think it was “supposed” to be, instead of assessing what is happening right now. Instead of responding to what is happening right now, we emotionally respond to what we originally wanted or expected (those of you that have had to deal with injuries may find yourselves nodding your head here).
Adjusting your goal does not mean that you have failed at your goal. And it does not mean it's the end of the road - unless YOU are the one that stops the car and walks away. Adjusting goals is part of the goal setting process. You're not giving up, you’re reevaluating and reassessing based on the information in front of you and making the best decision for this moment in time. And like my grandmother used to say, don't spend so much time looking at the door that's closed that you miss the next one that opens ... sometimes those adjustments end up taking you down a much better road.