Goals Won’t Make You Happy

We’ve spent this whole month talking about goals. How to Get Inspired, Get SMART, Get Abundant, and Get Tips. Then you heard from each of us on the Sterling Sport Mindset team.

You know we know goals. You know we set goals. You know we love goals.

Goals provide a lot of things. But they don’t make you happy.

Goals can help with motivation, with progress, with achievement, with doing bold, badass things. But they won’t make you happy.

Most of us are guilty of saying, I’ll be happy when…

When I make the team, when I’m in the starting lineup, when I set a new PR, when I get a college scholarship, when I finish that 10k.

Nope. All of those things are great, but they won’t make you happy.

Things don’t make you happy. People don’t even make you happy.

One of my pet peeves when I was a professor teaching new counselors was the phrase, “How does that make you feel?” What a well-meaning, but disempowering question.

Ugh. “That” (a circumstance) doesn’t make you feel anything. Circumstances are neutral. It’s about our perception. Our thoughts about the circumstance.

I know this is a tough one. We’ve all had circumstances in life that sure don’t feel neutral. Stuff that is either so amazing or so awful that there is no way anyone could see it as neutral. I know you’re tilting your head and thinking “I’m not sure I’m with you on this.” I get it. It took me a while to comprehend too, but all of it, is actually neutral.

(Side note: I don’t recommend saying this to someone right after a big accomplishment or a big loss. Sorry about your injury, but it’s actually neutral is not a good way to make or keep friends.)

But I won’t get into all of that here. I’ll save it for another blog. Just trust me. Or at least pretend to for a moment. 🙂

Since circumstances (including reaching your audacious goals) are neutral, if you’re unhappy before your goal. You’ll be unhappy after. You may feel a temporary high, which is fun, but if you haven’t done some thought work, the momentary joy won’t stay.

You’ve seen this before. You’ve probably experienced this before. You train for an event and you crush it. You walk around with the medal around your neck for the rest of the day. Winning made you happy! Nope. Your thoughts about winning made you happy. Thoughts likely along the lines of “my hard work paid off, I am the greatest, or I earned this”caused your happiness.

Think about another winning scenario. You’ve seen this before too. Maybe it’s happened to you. You train for an event and you win. But you’re still unhappy. People congratulate you and you respond with “Well, the competition wasn’t great. Any decent athlete could have won.”  It’s not the win. The win was neutral. It’s the thoughts.

Goals are great. As you know, I love me some goals. But goals don’t make me happy. It’s my thoughts about the goals. My thoughts about who I’ll need to become to achieve them. My thoughts about what accomplishing them means. Thoughts, not circumstances, cause feelings.

So what is the point of achieving a goal if it isn’t going to make you happy? It’s about the challenge. It’s about showing yourself what you’re capable of. It’s about living your best life. And often we do this better when we’re already happy. Not to make ourselves that way.

Okay, so you may be wondering: How do I get happy and then stay motivated for these won’t-make-me-happy-but-still-worth-it-goals? Next week, grasshopper. Next week.

Can’t wait until next week? Let’s chat now! It’s super easy to sign up for a free mini-session. Both Zoom and in-person options available!

P.S. Think about some positive circumstances in your life… Did I get ya? Circumstances aren’t positive or negative. They’re neutral!

P.P.S. You can think about circumstances that you’ve had positive thoughts about. That’s still allowed. 🙂 Want to talk more about this? I’m here!

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