o0karen0o /Foter

Have you ever had the experience of setting a goal for yourself, and then somewhere along the line you realize that some other approach might work better or make you happier? And then did you change routes, or did you stick to the original goal just because you said you would? If you switched, did you feel guilty about it for a while? It’s an interesting dilemma. Sometimes, you make a goal during a moment of clear insight, knowing that you might be tempted to make a poor choice in the future. In that case, it’s important to stick with the original goal. For instance, maybe you’ve set a goal to cook dinner at home at least once a week. Tonight’s the night, but you’re real tempted to stop off at Arby’s instead. In that case, your original goal is probably worth sticking with. As a general rule, if you’re reason for wanting to abandon the goal is a lack of planning or will-power, that’s probably not a good enough reason, and stopping off at the fruit stand to get the stuff for an amazing salad at home is going to make you feel a lot better than Arby’s will.

However, there are times when you made a goal based on the information you had at the time, and then new information or experiences come up and it makes sense to re-assess. I came across this interesting video this week about this idea of not even setting goals at all, because you run the risk of missing out on something better. Don’t Set Goals. What do you think?

I’m not sure I completely agree. Personally, I find goals very motivating. I have a Google Doc where I keep track of my financial goals and I find that inspirational. It’s unlikely that I’m going to change my mind about the importance of paying off my student loan as a goal. I also regularly set goals for the amount of money I’ll make in a day, and then I’ll keep working until i’ve reached that goal, where I might have quit sooner otherwise. Even if I do change my mind about a goal, I don’t find that stressful or demotivating. But what caught my attention about this video from Josh was that I have a client now who seems really stressed out by making goals at all. It was an experience that I wasn’t understanding until I heard Josh point out that goals create a lot of stress and pressure, where just “doing something” is very easy. You’re already doing it. If your life is set up in a sustainable way, then the things that you like to do also make you money. So it’s pretty likely that if you just do something, it will be something that makes you money. (If you’re life isn’t set up like this…well, you’re like most Americans. But if you’re reading this blog you’re probably working on changing that. That’s doing something too.)

How about you? Do you find goal-setting to be motivational or stressful? Do you change goals easily?