A person sitting on the ground next to a chair.

Honestly, Goal Setting Is Way Harder Than It Looks

Here’s the truth from someone who sets goals for a living.

Goal setting can be a real slog. Writing that sentence felt like I just talked trash on my kid. It felt like heresy. But it’s the truth. Pretending it’s easy doesn’t mean it actually is. So, I’ll say it again: Goal setting is tough. At times, it can be downright annoying. Other times, it can be dull and laborious.

As of this writing, I have ten+ goals. I write about goal setting. I talk about goal setting. Quite literally, goal setting is my full-time job. I know firsthand how tough goal setting can be. Like anything, once you know what you’re doing the process becomes straightforward. But that doesn’t mean it’s always vast riches and zero percent body fat.

 

The weight gaineth

The number on the scale grew steadily week after week. At first, I ignored it. But as the weeks went on and the figure continued to climb, I grew concerned. I decided to take an active approach to counter the change. After much research, I set a goal that restricted the amount of carbohydrates I consumed each day. I subbed out apples for cheese and began my weight loss journey. Only, the journey turned more into one of continued weight gain than anything else.

Week after week, the scale continued to climb. The goal wasn’t helping. In fact, it may have been hurting.

Not getting the result you want out of a goal is tough. Your expectations are crushed, your morale is shattered, and all you want to do is binge on pancakes (which I did). But that’s only part of it. What’s still more challenging is figuring out what went wrong. It’s setting a new goal in the former’s place. All with the hope that this time will stick.

And so, I read more. I researched more. I set a new goal (related to fasting) and dropped the old one. It’s still early days with the new goal, but the scale is moving in the right direction. It took almost a year for me to right the ship. To achieve your goals, you must be willing to accept you are wrong and make changes moving forward.

 

Building the future

Most Sunday evenings you will find me on the couch. The TV will be off. The phone will be in my hand. And if you take a close look, you’ll see that I’m not mindlessly scrolling as you might expect. Rather, I’m typing. And I’m typing a lot. Because it is on Sunday evenings that I plan out my week. I look at my calendar, at the goals I intend to work on, and a series of other such items.

I compile all of that information into a structured plan. It can take up to two hours to do.

Furthermore, each evening throughout the week I spend roughly 30 minutes updating that plan. I move things around, adjust my strategies, reevaluate priorities. Planning is incredibly useful in getting done all I’d like to get done. However, it can also be incredibly mundane and tiring. Like brushing your teeth or writing a letter to Santa, it’s something I don’t always want to do, even though I know I should. To achieve your goals, you must thoughtfully plan out your time.

 

Is this what you want?

Goal setting is more than a tool for accomplishment. Rather, it is a means to an end. It is a method for creating a more fulfilling life for yourself. That’s all well and good, but figuring out what you actually want can be draining. Do I want to climb that mountain for the sake of adventure? Or is it really just so I have something to brag about? These inner-dialogues are constant. They keep you honest and heading in the right direction. They can also paralyze you when feeling indecisive.

I have a doc where I list out the various categories of my life. Myself as parent, husband, friend. The roles of my home, business, finances, mental health, and more.

For each of those categories, I’ve noted exactly what fulfillment looks like to me. With each subsequent goal I set, I confirm that I’m doing it for the right reasons. As the goal progresses, I ask: is this still true to me? In terms of energy, it can be exhausting. Regardless, to achieve your goals and create a meaningful life, you must consider what it is you want.

 

The night beckons

I have a goal revolving around sleep. Specifically, how many nights a week I get at least eight hours. I like to stay up late. Thus, making the effort to turn in early is not always something I want to do. But alas, I know it’s important in maintaining that fulfilled life, so I do it anyway.

One of the hardest parts of goal setting is when it’s time to put in the work. After the week has been planned, the fulfillment has been confirmed, the right goal is set, and all that’s left is for you to put on your shoes and run. You won’t always want to get out there though. Especially when the sun is blazing and the humidity is particularly high. When the AC is on and your chair is oh so comfy.

It’s those moments that prove to be the most difficult. Therefore, to achieve your goals, you must consistently put in the work, even on hot summer days.

 

Set goals despite the challenge

All things worth doing are difficult. Whether that be writing a book or building a clothing empire, the lesson is the same. If you want a fulfilled life, know it won’t be easy. Know that strife, temptation, and tumult will abound. Yet through it all, know it is possible. Set the expectation for yourself ahead of time. Recognize that challenges lie ahead but that you can make it through. Challenges like having to:

  1. Adjust your goal when you’ve gone the wrong way.
  2. Spend hours each week planning your time.
  3. Understand what you truly want.
  4. Do the work when the alternative is so much easier.

Yes, goal setting is hard. But remember, it is but a means. And when you reach your desired end, it will all be worth it.