Goal Setting – The WHY behind the WHAT


Our Real Goals

In Personal Development-speak we are always talking about goals, outcomes, success, desires and dreams. In other words, all the stuff we want to do, achieve and create in our world. And while it’s important for us to know what we want to achieve (our goal), it’s also important for us to understand why we want to achieve it; the reason behind the goal or some would say, our real goal.

Exploring the WHY

Sometimes when we explore our “why”, (why we want to achieve a certain thing) we realise that our “what” (our goal) might not actually deliver us the thing (feeling, emotion, internal state) we’re really seeking. For example, the person who has a goal to lose weight in the belief that weight loss will bring them happiness, security, fulfillment, attention, popularity and the partner of their dreams. In this instance, their “what” is weight-loss and their “why” is happiness (etc.) and a partner. Six months later, they have lost the weight (achieved their goal) but as is often the case, they’re no happier, no more secure, no more confident, no more fulfilled and in keeping with their miserable state, they have failed to attract their dream partner. After all, who wants to be with someone who’s miserable? They achieved their practical goal but still failed to have their needs met. So they set a goal to lose another ten pounds. And then another. And maybe just ten more. With the destructive and erroneous belief that if they can get thin enough, they’ll find their own personal nirvana. And we all know how that story ends.

Our Motives

The important thing in the process of constructing our best life is not necessarily what goals we set (what we think we want) but what motivates us towards those goals (what we really want). The sooner we begin to explore, identify and understand what motivates us towards certain achievements, acquisitions or outcomes (that is, we begin moving towards greater consciousness and self awareness), the sooner we will make better decisions for our life, set more intelligent (and dare I say, enlightened) goals and experience more fulfilment and less frustration. We all know people who have achieved what they set out to, only to end up in the same place or worse (emotionally, psychologically, sociologically) because what they were chasing wasn’t really what they were needing. What we think we want will rarely provide us with what we actually need.

Our Internal State

We all set specific goals to achieve/acquire certain things (a job, a car, a partner, a better body, a bank balance, a title, a victory) because on some level most of us believe (consciously or not) that the achievement of those goals will bring us what we really seek; joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection. Of course, setting practical, material and financial goals is an intelligent thing to do considering the world we live in and how that world works but…setting goals with an expectation that the achievement of certain things in our external, physical world will automatically create an internal state of peace, contentment, joy and total happiness is an unhealthy and unrealistic mindset to inhabit.

What We Want and What We Need

Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious (superficial) goals to discover and secure what we really want. Sadly, we live in a collective mindset which teaches that the prettiest and the wealthiest are the most successful. Some self-help frauds even teach this message. If you’re rich or pretty, you’re happy. If you’re both, you’re very happy. Pretty isn’t what we really want; it’s what we believe pretty will bring us. Same goes with money. When we cut through the hype, the jargon and the self-help mumbo jumbo, we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs: joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

What We Don’t Need

Nobody needs a mansion or a sport’s car but we all need love. Nobody needs massive pecs, six percent body-fat, a face lift or bigger breasts but we all need connection, acceptance and understanding. Nobody needs to be famous but we all need peace, calm, balance and happiness. The problem is, we live in a culture which teaches that one equals the other. If only we lived in a culture which taught that real success is far more about what’s happening in our internal environment, than our external one.

Different but the Same

It’s a commonly-held belief that we’re all very different and we all have different goals but in many ways we’re not, and we don’t; we all want essentially the same things. Now all you have to do is see past the fraud and deception and find the right path.

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3 Responses to “Goal Setting – The WHY behind the WHAT”
  1. Great article, Mr HARPER! Thanks for your time.

  2. Glen Reid says:

    “…we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs: joy, fulfillment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.” …is a generalization that is dangerous just like all generalizations.

    The assumption that everyone’s ideal life goals are based on humanistic values whose focus is an agenda that profits oneself is a blinkered one. If we believe what is common to us and our circle of friends, family and associates must also therefore be common to all of humanity then we haven’t researched other mindsets and values that are not made public but are kept private to avoid the persecution, scoff, mock and ridicule incurred from the mainstream that says… if it seeks the betterment of others at personal expense, it’s mental unwellness.

    I’m just making a point that there are those whose goals aren’t focused on achieving positive personal outcomes but attempt to produce positive outcomes for others regardless of the personal cost.

  3. Marie says:

    This is true, we all need love, peace, acceptance, understanding, and encouraging people.

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