When Goal Setting DOESN’T work…


In general, goal setting is often a beneficial exercise in may walks of life, unless –

a) they’re unrealistic and over-reaching (after all, why create a goal you know you won’t achieve?), and/or
b) your feeling beyond attempting the goal is one which can make you feel worse than before you started.

For instance, if I set my target as climbing 1000 stairs and I make it, great, but if I don’t – how would that make me feel.

How would that make YOU feel?

For me, if I make 900 steps, that in itself is a great achievement.
Now, I know people who would consider themselves as a failure for not making the full amount.
But 900 stairs… a failure?!
No way I’ll be beating myself up for 900 stairs.
Of course, I could. I could allow myself to feel a failure, but how would that benefit me?
And how does the subsequent feeling of success or failure affect us neurologically?


There are some people who will always tell you “this would give me drive; determination”, but I for one have never felt motivated in a down mood. A feeling of failure has a negative effect on your reward system and then there is a lack of neurotransmitters such as dopamine or serotonin fired between neurons in your brain; messengers, delivering information around the cells of your grey and white matter that creates feelings and influences the way you do, or don’t do things physically.

So feelings of DE-motivation may having nothing to do with what has or hasn’t been achieved, but instead how you view your situation; your perspective.

Feeling good but feeling like I could do better next time has always given me a sense of motivation, which has a totally different feeling, and a different firing of those necessary chemicals in my brain that DO give me drive.

So, feelings of failure and negativity demotivates and feelings of achievement and positivity increases drive.

And 900 stairs? Well, you can always hit yourself with the proverbial stick, or you can pat yourself on the back – the stair number remains the same.

Set yourself stretch goals, but see them as a marker to aim at and not a ‘must make’, and allow yourself to feel happy for any slight progress you make along the way, no matter what size.


109 thoughts on “When Goal Setting DOESN’T work…

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