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Why Goal Setting Is For Losers And What To Do Instead

Written by: Stefan Peter, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


In this article you will learn the great danger of goal setting and why so many, even the most successful athletes, risk falling into a mental hole when they rush from goal to goal.

outdoor target practice, arrows missed the target

What can you expect from this article?

I also show you 3 steps you should take before setting new goals to avoid falling into the same trap. This will not only make you more successful but more importantly, happier and more fulfilled. I call this „performance joy“

Why do most people make the same mistake?

Let's go back to your childhood. Maybe you can still remember the moments when your parents took you for a walk. If not, it doesn't matter, and I'm sure you've seen these situations many times in the park. When a child is in nature, everything is interesting and examined closely. Every leaf is turned upside down, every flower is smelled and every grasshopper is followed. Children are completely fascinated by the little things in life.

As moms and dads, we often don´t appreciate these moments anymore. Most of the time we have a thousand other thoughts in our heads or to-do lists to work off. So we signal the child to hurry up, because we still have an appointment at the hairdresser and then grandma has prepared food for us. That's just the way life is.

Parents always want the best for their kids, but...

We as parents never mean any harm and always want the best for our children. But in these moments we already learn as kids how setting goals works in our society. Subconsciously, we learn that the present moment is not as important and beautiful as the things that are waiting for us in the future.

We are not even aware that we forget to enjoy the present moments ‒ we rush from goal to goal and we think this is a positive focus-driven way to live life.

We can never get enough and many feel stuck at some point

As one of the first words we learn is „more“, we constantly strive for more even as adults. Of course, this is not always bad. Especially high performers, whether in sports or not, need this "performance gene" to really perform at their best.

Only because their daily ambition is to constantly achieve more, they make it to the top and increase the chance to stay there.

Not everyone is a high performer and this is okay

But it is also a fact that most people do not have this "gene" in them and therefore quickly suffer or collapse as a result of external pressure or their own self-expectations.

Exactly in such moments I help athletes as a personal development coach to develop a different perspective and to clearly define their own vision in life. The goal is to transform learned behaviors and subconscious beliefs, that often block and lead to the fact that even successful people feel empty inside.

Constant growth in the body produces cancer cells

I often say that performance and constant growth have become „out“. Instead, evolution is back in. Our own development is what we should strive for and not constant growth. If cells would grow constantly, also our body would be full of cancer and therefore it is true that constant growth is not only unnatural but also harmful. Of course, we have all learned this socially quite differently and so the belief set sits deep with many that one must constantly grow, in order not to be considered a loser. But truth being told, everything we learn about success is a lie.

You can never arrive in life

The paradox is that we think once we reach the goal, we have arrived. When we have reached that milestone, bought that house, and risen to the next level, well then we are happy and satisfied.

Even the most successful professional athletes fall into this trap

In an interview with CNN in 2018, Michael Phelps admitted that he fell into a new depression after each Olympic Games and needed medication to control his suicidal thoughts. We are talking about Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian in history with 28 medals.

Serena Williams, one of the most successful tennis players in history also suffered from severe depression shortly after winning Wimbledon, one of the most important tennis tournaments in the world. "I cried all the time. I was miserable to be around," she said in a 2011 interview with The Telegraph.

Achieving goals means nothing...

So apparently achieving goals doesn't automatically make you happy. I'm sure you've experienced this too. A goal is never the end. Compare it to a Japanese arched gate that stands in the lake. As soon as you row through the red gate, you continue on the same lake, the gate was again not the end and you have again arrived nowhere. You can't arrive anywhere in life.

If you do not follow your life purpose which makes your heart shine you risk burning out.

That is why it is more important on which lake you are in than how many gates you pass through. Your life is your lake and therefore you should choose a lake on which you feel happy. I would not recommend a crocodile-infested body of water to anyone. If you don't know your vision in life, and the title of your book is unknown, and you don't have a North Star to follow, then there is a good chance that reaching goals becomes meaningless after some time.

What are 3 important steps you need to take BEFORE setting new goals in life?

Step 1: Reality Check

Ask yourself if your goal is really your goal. Only if your current goal makes your heart shine and you are full of joy and energy then it is a worthwhile goal. If not, then don't be afraid to adjust it. Once you set a goal, it doesn't have to stay forever. when you realize something has changed, be brave and stay open to change.

Very often, if you also start to set goals correctly and follow these steps, your vision and your guiding value in life will arise from it.

Step 2: Free yourself from guilt

Guilt signals the universe's disharmony. This is incompatible with taking the next step in your life. If you feel guilty, you are blocking yourself. According to the Map of Consciousnesses by David Hawkins, guilt and shame are the lowest vibrating frequencies. Those energies make us contract, we feel humiliated and often blame others in these states of emotion. Blaming others or the circumstances is what losers do. The world seems miserable and everyone seems evil and that is why wrong goal setting is so dangerous because for some people this becomes a never-ending loop.

Just like the bank that won't give you a loan if you have debt, life won't give you many chances if you feel guilt.

What can you do in such a situation to dissolve your guilt? You have to address the situations openly and approach people when you have feelings of guilt inside you. Find the courage to apologize and own up to your mistakes. The important thing to understand about mistakes is that no one makes mistakes on purpose. Mistakes happen. There is a big difference between making and happening. Forgive others' mistakes and do not hold grudges against others. This means do not demand redemption from others yourself because these feelings are toxic to your soul and block you extremely.

Likewise, repay your financial debts before you set new goals.

Step 3: Stop and find clarity

When you are caught up in the chaos of your life and can hardly breathe because you are so busy, it is impossible to hear your own voice and get clarity about your desires and dreams. Imagine a snow globe that you shake. Only when you put it down the snowstorm, calms down and you can see what is inside. Only when you stop for a moment, you can see the potential and desires within you.

Take some time out, there are great meditation seminars or retreats that help you find peace, strength and clarity. Many athletes incorporate meditation into their daily routines and so should you.

Then think about how your perfect day should look like and describe it in all colors and facets.

Describe what makes you happy, what you dreamed of as a child and what would really fulfill you now as an adult. Write down every detail of this perfect day and how that would make you feel. Focus on the feeling that comes up inside of you. Adjust all your new goals to this vision and follow them step by step to find your "performance joy. “

Finding that vision and making your heart shine is a process anyone can learn. In my online courses and 1:1 coaching, I guide athletes step by step.

Even the world's greatest achievers and best performers struggle sometimes. One extremely effective tool to experience more "performance-joy“ and fulfillment in success is to invest in personal development, just like many athletes do.

If you are interested in improving like an athlete, click here to see what my online course includes, or book a free coaching here to perform and feel better asap. And don´t worry I also work with you if you are not an athlete as long as you have the same drive and motivation as one.

I wish you lots of fun and best performance on your way.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Stefan Peter, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Stefan Peter is an expert in personal development. He works mainly with international athletes and coaches in the fields of Soccer, Tennis, Basketball and American Football. His own experience with depression as a young athlete, after the death of his father, inspired him to become a coach and a mentor to athletes in similar situations. His major passion is to empower people to unlock their full performance potential and (re)discover inner fulfillment and performance joy. He is the creator of the 4 steps Emotionset-Method and holds a Masters Degree in Sports Health and Leadership.



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