I recently watched psychiatrist Dr. K explain his findings from a study he conducted on many super successful men to find out the psychological processes and motivation that keeps them committed to their goals to get success, and I summarised it as saying, “sticking to your goals will make you fail.”
First, understanding what a goal truly means makes the statement paradoxical. A goal is a statement of an objective. It is defining what you would like to achieve or do within a specific period. Goals are specific, measurable, and achievable targets that an individual seeks to attain within a set time.
If you have read at least one book aimed at teaching you how to achieve success, then you must have learned the importance of goal setting and how success is impossible without you first setting a goal or goals.
But, even if you haven’t read any book on success, it is only logical that you cannot achieve something without first determining what you want to achieve. Success in itself is the achievement of set goals.
Now the paradox is clear: How can sticking to what I want to achieve stop me from achieving it? Isn’t it supposed to help me? Isn’t that focus?
This takes us back to talk to Dr. K’s survey. Of all the successful men he studied, none of them stayed motivated to the tiring works that continually brought them success by setting goals or continually visualizing their goals.
This doesn’t mean they didn’t have goals. Of course, they did, but they didn’t stick with it or continually visualize it as self-help books teach. Instead, they understood the purpose of goals and used it to their advantage.
You can watch the full video of Dr. K here
What Is The Purpose of Goals?
The sole purpose of a goal is to determine action. All that goals do, or should help you do, is to help you know what to do.
For example, if your goal is to be a medical doctor, you having that goal doesn’t make you a medical doctor. Instead, it serves as a guiding end that helps you to determine what steps you need to take now (that will help you become a medical doctor).
You know the courses you should take, the amount of time and resources you should invest in, the books you should read, places you should go, etc. Once all that has been determined, your goal has served its purpose. It is now almost useless and you can as well throw it away.
It is the commitment to the steps you have gotten from the goals that bring success, the achievement of that goal.
The only purpose of goals is to help you determine what you need to do. Goals do not bring success but help you know what to do to get success. -Iyejare Olusegun
Sticking To Goals Can Get You Discouraged
True to what self-help books teach, it is big goals that bring big success. But after reading the books, what is seen in real life is that big goals mostly bring big failure caused by big discouragements.
A seven-year-old child from a poor family and community sets a big goal of becoming an astronaut. After setting that goal, he walks out and finds his environment working against his plan of action towards that goal.
Because the goal is so big, he needs a lot of effort and support to achieve it. Unfortunately, he gets none. He then gets discouraged and leaves that goal.
You can easily say it’s his discouragement that stopped him from achieving that goal, but he might not have been discouraged if his goal wasn’t that big and he could easily find a way through his environment and get it.
A newbie politician who wants to become a president and get discouraged in the face of the political godfathers, might not have been discouraged if his goal was to be a mayor of the city. So you can see that big goals sometimes bring big discouragements and big failures.
But does that mean super successful men didn’t set big goals? Certainly not. It brings us back to where we started:
Sticking To Goals Doesn’t Bring Success, Sticking To The Process Does
Since what a goal should help you to determine is the process that will get you there. Once the process has been determined, you can forget the goal and focus on the process.
What Dr. K found was that all the super successful men simply kept their minds on “this is what I should do” or “this is what I am to do.” They forgot about “this what I want to achieve.”
Since they have a plan drafted out already– a plan that will bring that goal, they are sure that committing to that plan will bring the goal, so they just commit to it.
Now you might have to bring your goal back to mind from time to time to ensure you are still committed to it and to revise it as necessary, but the point is clear. It is setting your mind on what needs to be done and doing it that brings success.
Action Step 1: Replace “I want to be an astronaut in 5 years” with “I will watch 4 videos from the NASA YouTube channel today”
Action Step 2: Replace “I want to be a doctor in 10 years” with “I will read this book this evening”
Action Step 3: Replace “I want to win the presidential election next year” with “I will attend this political meeting this Thursday”
What these replacements do is that they take away the abstract and futuristic nature of the goals and bring in concrete, present, and actionable steps that spur you to action than the former.
They also take away the discouragement the big and difficult nature of the goal might bring.
Benefits of Sticking To The Process
Although we have seen the benefit of sticking with the process as against sticking with your goals, I will still like to point them out so you don’t miss them
1. Sticking to the process is more fun than sticking to goals
The goal in itself is only about 2% of the entire cycle. Once you achieve the goals, that is it! The achievement of the goal takes only a moment, while all the rest of the time is spent on the process.
If all your mind is stuck on the goal, you won’t enjoy the process because it is not the goal, and that means you won’t enjoy most of your life.
2. Sticking with the process teaches you valuable lessons
Successful people have lessons to teach in attaining success because they were mindful of the process.
If all you do is focus on the goal, you won’t pay attention to the process that got you to the achievement of that goal (if you eventually get there), and so you won’t get the lessons that are to be learned from the process.
Because all you care about is the goal, you will do anything to get there, including cutting corners and jumping the process. These are enemies of true success.
3. Sticking to the process keeps you motivated
As against abstract and daunting targets, the process consists of progressive actionable steps. These steps are easier to accomplish, and the more you accomplish them, the more stirred you are to accomplish more.
This will not happen if all you want is the achievement of a huge goal.
It is only sticking to the process that brings the achievement of goals. That is the whole point of this article. If you are truly interested in achieving your goals, don’t stick with it: stick with the process instead.