Are You Setting Yourself The ‘Right’ Goals?


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“Success is not in what you have, but who you are.”

Bo Bennett

“I’m just not feeling what I thought I’d feel.”

I’ve heard versions of this line from clients over the years. It usually comes AFTER they’ve achieved some significant goal like a major contract, a big promotion or the sale of a business.

It points to a problem in the Western World in particular.

Research related to this started was published in 2009 by the University of Rochester. They had studied 147 recent university graduates and asked them their goals after graduation.

They found that for people who had goals, they fell into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic ones centre around fulfilment from deep, enduring relationships. They are more focused on meaning, state of being, personal growth and connection.

Extrinsic goals centre on money, getting ‘stuff’, power or fame.

The research team followed up a year later and found that the people who had goals, generally achieved them.

This was the first important finding: You most likely get what you focus on in life.

But the second finding was more profound.

The people with intrinsic goals had happier lives after a year. Those with just extrinsic goals experienced more negative emotions such as fear, shame, doubt and stress. They also suffered more illness!

Most people, if they’re honest, are caught up with achieving ‘extrinsic’ goals. In fact, the world as it is, conditions us to think this way.

  • Get the latest gadget…
  • Buy the coolest car…
  • Go to the most beautiful place for holidays…
  • Achieve the promotion…
  • Sell the business for x millions…
  • Get ‘x’ to feel great…(insert your own extrinsic goal for ‘x’)

The research was highlighting a key reason why many achievers can end up feeling ’empty’.

Often our focus on extrinsic goals is deeply unconscious and you could say almost it’s addictive i.e. we don’t know the extent to which it’s affecting out lives. As such it drives workaholic behaviour.

We usually set extrinsic goals believing that achieving them will ‘make’ us happy. It turns out that, as usual, there’s more to it than meets the eye…

Perhaps this week, take an hour out and deliberately take some time and reflect on the balance of your intrinsic and extrinsic goals? (especially when it comes to our core relationships and friendships)



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The Inner Edge Podcast: Short, bite-sized nuggets of 10-12 minutes, designed to give you motivation and plenty of inspirational food for thought. Listen on my website here or on all major podcasting platforms.

This week’s episode, Ep 163: Your Unconcsious Mind Is Always Working

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