Have you ever achieved goals? And which ones did you miss? Welcome to the club. Few things are as normal in our culture as being aligned with targets. School grades, income, body mass index. Behind them are desires: success, freedom, attractiveness. And behind them, needs: Recognition, autonomy, wanting to be loved. So let's define where we want to go. If we achieve what we set out to do, everything is okay. If we don't, we're missing something, and we respond with new goals: better grades, more income, a tighter stomach. Wanting more is always possible. In the job anyway: turnover, quality criteria, working hours. Key figures everywhere that have to be achieved because they coordinate and align the company. How else? And when our souls ache from time to time, we need spiritual goals: more mindfulness, more closeness, more adventure. So we book yoga classes, make appointments with our partners and fly off on vacation. It still fits into our busy lives.
But instead of happiness and contentment, we often achieve the opposite: we end up on the hamster wheel of imagined duties without really getting where we want to go. We feel the desire for substance and tranquility, but have no time for it. The calendar is too full. So close your eyes and get through it. What must, that must.
Some manage to function like this for decades. Others slip into crises, from which they seek ways out: Antidepressants, astrology, dramatic life changes. At some point, everything has to make sense. Still others flee forward: they attend motivational courses, feel their breathing, become spiritual.
The goal: to develop the personality. Somehow we have to become even better, to adapt to our goals. As we are, we are not enough. So we have to work on ourselves. Once we have finally found a new sense of purpose, we quickly cast it again in concrete forms and visualize our desires: dream house, dream partner, dream body, millions in the bank account. The vicious circle closes and everything starts all over again.
Let's get one thing straight: I am a coach by conviction and passion. A life without personal development is not a good one in my eyes. I also set myself goals time and again, and the majority of them I achieve. Nevertheless, it is obvious: This system is crooked. Somehow it never quite works out, because we too easily end up somewhere out there instead of inside ourselves. The younger we are, the easier it is for us to play along. No wonder with the long to-do list: Partnership, children, career, self-realization. But the older we get, the more we differentiate ourselves. We sense who we are and who we are not or no longer. From years of experience. So why pant any longer? The partner is sitting on the sofa or is already history, the kids are fine, the job is done, we've made it. And now? Is there more? Or maybe less and deeper for it?Instead of goals, the focus is on meaning. Although it should have been there from the beginning.
So let's start with the construction errors of goals. Because we know how to achieve them anyway: set a goal, plan your path, commit to the goal, act focused, work hard and persevere! Lose five kilos? No problem: change your diet. Less sugar, less alcohol, more greens. Sport, too, of course. And the project begins: minus one kilo, minus two, minus three. Of course, it's not quite that easy. The pizza calls out, "Eat me!" A glass of wine would also be fine. And sometimes we would steal children's ice cream. No matter, we hang in there. Minus four kilos, minus five, done. And what comes next? The pizza still calls out, "Eat me!" And we answer the call. After all, we've reached our goal. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for minus five kilos to become plus six.Hello, yo-yo effect! Goal achieved and yet failed again.
What the hell is happening? Only those who know their destination will find the way, as the saying goes. Isn't that true? The truth is more complex. Because more important than the goal is the behavior that leads there. In this case, it's the diet. And anyone who has enjoyed eating pizza and ice cream for thirty years may be able to suppress it for a while, but not permanently. The habit is stronger. Accordingly, change must come at a different level. Pulling ourselves together for a few days is not enough if we want to maintain our new behavior. But then it's not about the goal of losing five kilos, but about who we want to be. The goal only distracts from this question.
So: Who do we want to be? Or at least should be? Probably someone who doesn't like it when the belt tightens. Someone who eats when they feel hungry and stops eating when they're full - and not when the plate is empty. Someone who likes to exercise regularly in the right doses, without needing a fitness app to do it, because the body signals anyway that exercise is good for it and how much of it. If we become such a person, our weight will be right by itself. It is the logical result of the right inner program - independent of numbers. The goal is then irrelevant, the path becomes the goal.
So why don't we just do the obvious right thing? Because food also fulfills other functions: It comforts, for example, or distracts. Which raises the questions, where and from what. Frustration? Stress? Boredom? It also tastes good. But do you really have to go on a diet for a few seconds of pleasure? Or chronic diseases later on? What other sources of happiness are missing? Whereby also many slim ones make constantly diets. Something is always missing for the dream figure, although only in one's own head. Maybe because it's not about the figure at all, but about the feeling of not being enough. Or about the desire to control. Now the path is no longer the goal, but the goal is only in the way.
This striking and yet very common example shows what lies behind it: some kind of spikes or motors that sit deeper. Even when we are no longer aware of them due to distraction, they drive us. The entrepreneur scales his business to still show it to his father, even though he has been dead for years. The mother of two takes refuge in sexless pettiness to avoid sexual and professional competition. The lovesick abandoner clings to his ex because he is too shy for new women. But instead of untying the underlying knots, the front yard is planted, growth goals are defined, or muscles are exercised strictly according to plan in order to appear strong, at least on the outside. In this way, goals become crutches of creative avoidance. We run away from ourselves instead of towards ourselves.
I suspect resistance. Can't people just enjoy entrepreneurship? And love beautiful front yards? Or cool biceps? Sure you can. It's all okay. As long as they're free actions, done without reactance or constraint, because it's about the action itself. You can and should love what you do. Eating delicious food without counting calories. To be able to do without mortifying oneself. Rushing from project to project. Gardening with dedication. Or love to work out. But then it's about loving the thing, not about achieving goals.
Well? Curious now? Then I look forward to meeting you in the online seminar - or as a reader of my new book!
Your Stefan Frädrich