Goal setting is really black-or-white thinking

We’re still in the middle of goal season.

In December, lots of companies set performance goals for the next year, and have their employees set their individual goals.

In January, many people set resolutions. We’ll talk about how successful that is another time.

And entrepreneurs and boss ladies and all start talking about how they are going to slay with their big-ass goals. I bet you can tell by my tone that I have something to say about goals…

I do. Goals aren’t all bad. But they sure aren’t as great as we’ve been led to think they are. What? Why?

Goals lead us to Black-or-White thinking. We’ve talked about this before.  Black-or-White thinking is the Land of the Amygdala, the Survival Brain, the killer of creativity.

When we set a goal, we focus on achieving the goal, the result, the destination. There are only two possible outcomes – either we achieved them or we didn’t. Black or white.

The other thing goals do is deprive us of happiness, satisfaction, pride or whatever it is that we want to feel. When we set a goal, we hang all of our hopes on feeling what we want to feel when we achieve our goal. Once I achieve my goal, I’ll be happy… so I can’t be happy now.

We don’t have to throw goals away. I suggest we use Color Thinking to reimagine them. Let’s let the goal process have a little transformation, too! How do we do that?

First, interrupt the pattern of goal setting, and change it up. Let’s make it a journey, not a destination.

Second, change the story. Instead of telling ourselves how amazing we’re going to feel once we achieve the goal, let’s just talk about how we want to feel.

Third, let’s pick a color (or two) that best represents the feeling(s).

Fourth, let’s ask Color Thinking questions, such as:

  • How can I feel that way now?
  • What can I do to bring more of those feelings into my life?
  • What are some steps or actions I can take to support?
  • What are some milestone (more than one!) I can identify to celebrate along the way?
  • Use specific questions for your color to address any roadblocks you may hit.
  • Keep feeling, thinking and doing, adjusting course along the way – because it’s a journey!

So a milestone might sound a little bit like a goal. Yeah, they are related. But it’s one in a series on the journey. You can enjoy the journey AND the experiences along the way. If you think about it, we are always moving from one place to another. Even if we pause at a “destination” for a while, there’s another one coming up! So we’re really changing how we think about goals.

Changing how we think about something does change both the thing and our experience of the thing!

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,



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