Let’s talk about goal setting for a moment. When we talk about setting a goal, most people will think that they need to be specific. It is said that the more specific you are with your goal, the better. Is it really so? Well, we will find out in this article.
First, you have to understand what goal setting really is. In fact, when you set a goal, you are giving yourself an intention of what you want to achieve.
You are giving yourself a specific result to achieve in the future. You are telling yourself the direction you are heading and what you need to do to get there.
But what if the destination is not what you really want to go? What if there are better things out there? Does that mean that you are limiting your own possibility and your goals are holding you back?
But before we jump into the conclusion of whether you should set specific goals or not, let’s talk about the benefits.
The Benefits of Setting Specific Goals
We all know that we have to be specific with our goals. We even say that one of the main reasons people fail to achieve what they want is that they are not being specific enough.
A lot of people say that they want to be happy, they want to be rich, and they want to healthy. But these are vague goals that are not specific.
When people set these kinds of goals, they are bound to fail because they are too broad and general.
Here are the 3 advantages of being specific when it comes to setting goals:
1. Being specific gives you the ability to focus
Yes, when you are being specific, it allows you to focus better. For example, saying that you want to exercise to lose 10 pounds is more specific than just saying that you want to lose weight.
When your goal is specific, it gives you greater focus. You will know what you need to do when your objectives are specific.
If your goals are broad and vague, you may feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to focus.
2. When your goals are specific, they drive you
“Clarity is power,” said Tony Robbins. And yes, he is absolutely right. When it comes to achieving something you want, being specific gives you more motivation.
Which of the 2 scenarios below excites you more?
- To have a 10-day holiday, or
- To have a 10-day holiday in Hawaii, take the Jurassic Park tour, ride a helicopter circling the island, and enjoy the white sandy beach while sipping the famous rainbow drink.
So which one of the goals above sound more exciting to you? The choice is obvious, the second and more specific goal, isn’t it?
This is the power of clarity. When you are specific with your goals, you become more motivated to achieve them.
And this is why we often encourage people to set specific goals – they will drive you!
3. Setting specific goals give rise to a viable and more actionable plan
Do you know that one of the key reasons you want to be specific with your goals is that you want to have a better plan?
You see, when you are vague and you blur with what you want to accomplish, it is difficult to come up with a plan. It will be difficult for you to formulate an action plan when things are not specific.
You cannot come up with a blueprint of a house if you don’t know how the house is going to look like, right?
For instance, if your goal is to get rich, what should you do or what is your plan? Well, there are a lot of things you can do to get rich. You can invest in real estate, start a business, build a website and sell something, get into sales, invest in the stock market, etc.
But when you are specific like if you set your goal as to earn your first $100,000 from real estate, then you can clearly formulate a plan.
See, when your goals are specific, it becomes easier for you to create an action plan to get there.
The Disadvantages of Being Specific
After going through the advantages of being specific with your goals, I believe that you are sold with the idea that you need to be specific.
But is it true that making your goal specific is the holy grail to success? Well, not necessary. Let’s talk about the disadvantages of being specific with your goals.
1. You limit the possibilities and hold yourself back
You see, when you are overly specific, you kill off the chances of other possibilities. When you are being specific, you will not consider other options to get to your goal because you believe that there is only one way to get what you want.
Take the example of becoming financially. When you are too specific, say you set your goal to earn $100,000 from real estate, you are saying ‘no’ to other opportunities.
More importantly, you can be so focused and so specific that you forget that your main objective is to be financially free. You thought that your ultimate objective is to make money from real estate, which is really not. All you want is to become rich and financially free and real estate is just a vehicle.
But because you are being so specific, you hold yourself back and reject all other good ideas.
2. There is always something better out there
You have to understand that there are many ways to get what you want in life. Even if your goal is to lose weight, do you know that there are many methods of how you can achieve it?
You can go on a diet or follow an exercise plan. Even a diet plan has many variations. And so with exercises. Are you going to work out in the gym? Are you going to get a trainer? Are you going to run every day?
As you can see, there are plenty of ways how you can achieve your goal – to lose weight.
But when you are being specific, you opt for only one method. And that method may not be the best method for you. Do you get that?
If you want to earn more money, starting a business may not be the best option. Perhaps you should do some investments. Or perhaps you should take a part-time job or work as a freelancer.
You see, the possibilities are limitless. But when you are being specific, you give yourself no option but to go for just one.
3. Being specific can be boring
Check out this quote from Finding Dory:
“The best things happen by chance.”
Yes, in other words, the best things happen randomly. It is not through specificity.
When you set a specific goal and you have a concrete plan, you become less flexible and things can sometimes become boring.
There will be no surprises. You already know what you want out of your life and you even have a plan for how you want to live and what you want to achieve for the next 20 years.
Have you ever met or deal with someone who is so specific and talks about planning all the time? When you ask him or her out for a dinner, he’ll just say that he needs a plan for that?
Sometimes, it is better to be flexible and just let things happen by chance. You will never know how things will turn out.
Having a concrete plan can kill the fun and surprises. More importantly, it may even hold you back from getting out of your comfort zone.
This is because you have been used to planning and doing everything according to your plan and what you know, when you don’t have a plan, you feel boring and you have no idea what to do.
Some people will never go to a shopping mall when they have no plan. They only go shopping when they have something to buy. And when they get to the mall, they will head straight to the shop, grab their things, and then leave.
On the other hand, there are also people who prefer to wander around and just let life be. They don’t have a plan and they have no idea what they want to buy. Sometimes, they encounter something good and they buy it. And sometimes, they end up wasting time there.
So, should you set specific goals? After going through the good and bad of being specific, what do you think you should do with your goals?
In my opinion, I believe that you need to be both specific and flexible at the same time.
You need to set specific goals and let your goals motivate you and help you move forward to living the life that you want. And at the same time, you should be flexible and be more open to other possibilities.
Don’t just stick to one approach. Perhaps, your goal may not be something that you really want. Perhaps, your goal is just a stepping stone to getting what you truly want out of your life.
The best way to do so is to constantly review your life. Don’t just set a goal and follow the plan blindly. You need to review it.
Things are not going to stay the same forever. Things will change, my friend. You may want to drive that sports car when you are young, but maybe when you get older, your priorities can change.
Therefore, be specific with your goals so that they drive you and help you move forward in life. And at the same time, be flexible to other opportunities too. Do a quarter or yearly review for your life.