The difference between healthy and unhealthy goal setting

by | Jan 14, 2021 | 2 comments


Doesn’t goal setting mean that you are not happy with your life now? Shouldn’t you just be grateful for what you have and accept the now as it is? Life as it comes? Yes, definitely, but it’s not one or the other. I believe self acceptance, living in the now and aiming for growth can co-exist. But there are many traps to fall into when you practice goal setting. Traps I fell and fall into. And you can definitely do goal setting in a very unhealthy way. But! Also in a healthy way and add even more meaning to your already beautiful life.

Unhealthy goal setting beliefs:

1.“If I reach this and that, then I’ll be happy.”

The most obvious one. Not being happy right now but when you have that thing or reach that goal. And then there will be something else to chase. It’s the illusion of a never ending desire for happiness in the future. 

2. “If I set a goal that means I’m not happy with who I am today.”

You can be perfectly happy in the now and still be aware of the desires in you. I believe we all have desires and to suppress them is unhealthy. I believe we even have hidden desires and it’s important to get to know them. To get to know yourself and what makes your soul happy. Setting goals for that to help your soul is totally fine.

3. “It’s ungrateful for me to set goals.”

Again, it’s not this or that. You can and should be very grateful for what you have and who you are. Gratitude is the energy of abundance and contentment. In the light of abundance, there can be more of what you want. Not because you need it to be happy, but because there is abundance in the world. Why not accept that too? It’s ok to be grateful and do something with your desires.

4. “I shouldn’t interfere with the plan of the universe and I shouldn’t listen to my desires.”

There is a difference between mind desires and soul desires. Mind desires are usually things outside of yourself you think you need to be happy. Desires of the soul are deeper within. Things you can not explain, you just know it when you are honest to yourself. But these are also very hard to admit to yourself and take action on. I believe these desires are sacred. When it comes from this place I believe the universe is only encouraging you to listen to these desires and will help you with them.

5. “If i don’t hit my goals in the time i set for them i have failed myself.”

I have caught myself many times believing this and it took me a while to break free from this one. I have to remind myself often that this is not true. I will explain how I look at it now.

A healthy way to look at goals

The best way to look at goal setting is comparing it to a compass. To know what direction to walk in. When you go to the forest do you just walk around? Can be fun, but you can get lost. Having a compass and a clear direction will bring you further to where you want to go. That doesn’t mean the end destination is the most important. Absolutely not. It is all about the journey and your adventures on the way. 

It can be the same with goal setting. In my work getting clear on your desires and goals is the first step we take. I want to know where you want to go because I want to help you get there. We do set mind goals, there is nothing wrong with that if they support your soul goals. Being attached to the outcome is what is unhealthy. Examples of these are hitting certain numbers or having this many clients. Which is great to think about, but what you really want to define are your soul goals. 

So the big question is, what do you think would add to your happiness? What would add to everything in your life you already are grateful for? What does your soul really want? 

Don’t die with your music still inside you

I asked my mother if she has anything in life she still wants to do or reach. She said;

“No, I’m perfectly happy with my life now. I have everything I want.”

That’s beautiful. And very true. But remember, it’s not this or that! So I wanted to see if there were still some hidden desires of her soul. And after some digging she said:

 “I want to write and publish a fairy tale book with life lessons. Read them to children and play my harp along with it.” 

Isn’t that beautiful? And the best example of don’t die with your music still inside you?

If she will reach that or not doesn’t matter, it gives her a direction that will bring her soul even more fulfillment in her already happy life. Abundance! And don’t miss this one, it gives your life more purpose. When you know where to focus on, you recognize and create more opportunities. And just knowing and acknowledging your soul’s desires already frees your soul.

Practicing gratitude on the journey

When you have a goal from your soul; a plan, a system and action can help get you in that direction. Mind goals in the right direction as well. And a strong and clear brand will also help you attract more opportunities and the right people. 

When you are on a journey with goals as your compass you can only compare yourself to your former self, not to others and not your future self. Look at where you came from and see your progress. Practicing gratitude for everything on your journey and what you have gained is the key to not fall into the traps. And if you do, recognize it, get up again and adjust your navigation system. Goals and desires can change anyway.

Discovering your soul goals

It may sound easy to know your soul’s desires, but it’s not. Many people are not in touch with them. That’s why I believe it is very healthy to sit down and reflect on it. Meditate, feel, look back, what have you always wanted? What are you not acknowledging? Or make very small? It doesn’t have to be big, just yours. And you don’t have to make a career out of it. Just have awareness on it. So you have some direction if you want to set healthy goals. 

Remember: Hitting a goal is not the goal. It’s just a direction.

Interested in what my plan of action looks like? Let me know in the comments, maybe I’ll write another blog about that.

Hanneke Laaning

With love,

ps. Want some tips?
I work with Desire Mapping in my work and the concept of Ikigai. They can help with discovering your soul’s desires and create healthy goals. 

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