Why big goals can stand in the way of your success

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Written by B

Why big goals can stand in the way of your success

"If your goals do not scare you, they are not big enough." This quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is commonly cited and used to push and motivate people to pursue big goals. I would take this statement with caution because having big goals can actually hinder your success. That sounds strange to you? Well, it is not. Let’s imagine you are a researcher and your big goal is to win a Nobel prize. All your life you pursue that single goal. 

We make success our goals

It is not in your hand whether you will win the Nobel prize. Even if you are talented and very hard working. Winning the Nobel prize has something to do with luck: The luck to touch a subject that will turn out to change the game. The luck to do research with the right methods, so that you will get the ground-breaking results. The luck that the scientific community accepts your ideas. The luck to get funding for your research. The luck to be so valued by your colleagues that they suggest your work for the award. The luck to be alive when they award your work. This list goes on and on and on. In our society, we currently deny the influence of luck, because we want to believe in the justice of hard work. However, hard work will not secure success. You as an individual cannot influence whether you will be successful with what you do. That is a decision the market will make. However, we often make success our goals. We make something our goal that is not in our hands. Something that may take years to accomplish or something that may never come. That may doom us to feel unsatisfied all our lives. Therefore, when setting goals focus on aspects you can influence, like personal progress or habits.

Your motivation will decrease through dissatisfaction 

If your goals are so big that you never actually reach them, you will always be dissatisfied with how far you have come. Although you might have come quite far. Scientific evidence suggests that feeling successful is an essential driver for your passion- not only the other way around. When you never allow yourself to feel successful, you will hinder yourself to become motivated to reach your final goal. Make sure you don’t stop half the way because you simply don’t feel the drive anymore.

Fear paralyzes you and makes the ride less enjoyable

Imagine the last time you were scared of something? Maybe heights or a spider or a public speech. What is your initial reaction tendency? Right, we turn away from things that are scary. We fear that we might not be able to face the object or activity related to our fear. When we try to overcome them despite your negative feelings, we need a lot of strength and it will exhaust us. But we will only give it a try when we see the slightest chance that we might overcome them. When we expect a sure failure, we won’t move. You might end up only being overwhelmed thinking about your big end goal. However, a long distance is walked with small steps. Instead of inhibiting yourself thinking about a faraway goal, make small steps, you can enjoy and pursue smaller goals with passion. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big - just make sure to let the big goals don’t stand in your way.


Published on Saturday 16th October 2021

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