If you’re like most people, at the beginning of this year you set goals to exercise regularly, eat healthily, develop yourself, and serve your community.
But then life happened.
Deadlines to meet. Bills to pay. Assignments to complete. Obligations to fulfill. Responsibilities to carry out.
(My first child was born this year, so I know that life can happen in big ways that make you busier than you could’ve imagined.)
And that’s how your goals slipped down your list of priorities. This has happened to me before, and it’s probably happened to you, too.
Me, the former compulsive goal-setter
Up until a couple of years ago, I was a compulsive goal-setter who set a lot of goals—more than 50 a year. I set goals in the areas of sleep, exercise, academics, career, personal finance, personal development, spirituality, relationships, community service, and leisure.
Pretty crazy list, I know.
I even set a goal for spontaneity: Do at least one spontaneous thing a week. My friends all thought I was hilarious—“ridiculous” is the word they’d probably use—for turning spontaneity into a goal!
But I discovered that setting goals obsessively is counter-productive. I became stressed by trying to achieve and track all of those goals.
Why you need more rules and fewer goals
Nowadays, I set far fewer goals (I’ve set 13 goals for 2014). Instead of setting goals, I set rules for myself.
A goal is a target, something you hope to achieve, something you try to do. It’s something you aspire toward.
A rule, on the other hand, is a law to abide by and a standard to adhere to. It’s non-negotiable. It’s something you do, no matter what.
Some people might argue that it’s just a matter of semantics, but I think there’s more to it. Goals inspire hope, while rules mandate action. Goals focus on the desired outcome, while rules focus on the process that will lead to that outcome. [Continue reading]