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Some of us work to pay the bills. That can be a happy experience. You’re likely getting fulfillment from other areas of life. You’re getting purpose from other areas. Family, friends, hobbies, etc. You can still get some from work. The fact that work helps you accomplish those things can bring happiness.

But some get a mix of fulfillment. From work and from outside life activities. And some really rely heavily on work for their fulfillment. In these cases it can be tricky. You can start setting goals for work. And because you’re so work driven, it’s not a good or bad thing, these goals can sometimes be negative.

But how can goals be bad when it comes to work? Aren’t goals a good thing? Don’t they help keep you driving forward?

Here are a few thoughts…

1. Do you compare yourself to others?

Perhaps the trickiest thing with just about any goal is comparing yourself to others. In some senses it’s a great thing to compare yourself to others. You wonder how you should live your life. You look to those older than you for examples. You start to model your future life on what you see.

But in work it can be easy to look at what others are doing and start to compare what you’re doing. You see a salesperson achieving things and you compare yourself. Or you see someone with a certain job title at a certain age and you compare yourself to them.

But you don’t often get all the information. And without that information you can drive yourself crazy with comparison.

2. Do your goals rely on others to take action?

Another issue that can arise is that your goals rely too much on the actions of others. Your boss giving you a raise or a promotion. Your coworkers giving as much or more effort on a team project. Your boss leading in a way that helps the entire company, and all those working there, to benefit.

Try to focus on personal growth and what you can control with your work. This can lead to fulfillment and purpose.

3. Are your goals too big?

Big goals are good…most of the time. When things get hairy is when you set a huge goal without a plan to get there. You don’t break the goal down into steps. This leads to you only focusing on the end goal and seeing the distance you have to go and it’s daunting. After awhile that will wear you down and you’ll probably just give up on it. And that’s not a good feeling for someone that is driven.

4. Does the dream make you excited or does the process?

It’s exciting to think about a dream. A car. A house. A promotion. Lots of money. We see someone older than us and more accomplished and we dream about living their life. But we don’t focus on the process to get there. We like the idea of the end, but not necessarily what it will take to get there.

Do you like your day-to-day work? Well, maybe not like or love, but does it make you want to work each day? Do you get fulfillment from the little things each day that keep you going?

5. Do you feel the need to tell others?

Sometimes it’s good to have others in on your long-term goals. They help drive you. But that’s tricky. Again, you’re relying on others and that leads to lack of control. Often the best goals are the ones you set for yourself.

There are many great examples that have leaked out about Tiger Woods over the years. He set little personal goals all the time. One year he wanted to lead the PGA Tour in driving accuracy. That was something he wanted to kind of do for himself. In the 2000 US Open he wanted to finish the final round without a bogey. He didn’t care if anyone else knew about it. He was pushing himself.

Conclusion

Goals are great things. But they can often bring some potential pitfalls. Especially as you bring others into your world. And sometimes we often set ourselves up for failure with the nature of the goal. So hopefully these few little things can help set you off on the right path for your work goals.

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