Setting Goals Without Attaching Self-Worth to OutcomesBy Dr. Margaret Paul
May 30, 2022
Are you confused about the difference between setting goals and being attached to outcomes? Learn the big difference between these two.
Many people experience confusion regarding the difference between setting goals and letting go of their attachment to outcomes. A recent question from a client addresses this issue regarding some online advice to be in the moment and not worry about the future. "If that's so, how can you set goals for yourself? Everyone sets goals based on the outcome. Why else would you even set goals or try to accomplish anything?" she asked me.
Setting goals is a very positive and powerful thing to do. Setting goals helps us to take the loving action we need to take on our own behalf to accomplish the things we desire to achieve.
However, setting goals and working toward accomplishing those goals is very different than attaching your happiness, worth, and wellbeing to achieving those goals. If you attach your happiness and worth to accomplishing your goals, then you will never feel happy until you have what you want. And, because you will likely continue to create new goals once you accomplish your previous goals, this means never being happy or feeling worthy.
As long as you attach your happiness and worth to accomplishing your goals, you can never be happy in the moment.
There is always the proverbial carrot dangling in front of you, and you never reach it. No matter how much you have and accomplish, the carrot is always there. This is one reason why there are so many successful people who are very unhappy and never feel that they are good enough.
Goals are wonderful, and achieving them is fun and fulfilling, but happiness is right now, being fully present with all that you have. Your self-worth needs to be based on your intrinsic qualities - your goodness and ability to love, your compassion, caring, generosity, and understanding - rather than on achieving goals.
Attaching your happiness to outcomes is what causes distress.
As soon as you attach your happiness, worth and wellbeing to something - to connection with someone, to money, things, approval, success, and so on - you then want control over getting what you want. You want to control the outcome. And trying to control what you can’t control causes distress. Not only does the attachment itself cause anxiety because you might ruminate on getting what you want, but some of the things you might do to attempt to control the outcome may keep you from being present to your experience of life in the moment, and from being guided by your higher self toward achieving your goals.
Taking loving action to accomplish your goals is not the same as trying to control the outcome.
Loving actions may include hard work, staying open to learning, being honest and acting with integrity, being on time, following through on commitments, caring about others, and so on. Controlling actions may include lying, using others, ruminating, getting angry or defensive, being closed to learning and so on. Controlling behaviors not only lower your frequency, making it harder to manifest what you want, but these behaviors often result in feeling alone and unworthy.
When you are willing to accept that you are not in charge of outcomes, you can be fully present in this moment, connected with the guidance that will help you to achieve your goals. It's wonderful to want to be in a loving relationship, to be rich, to have a baby, to be accomplished in your chosen profession, to lose weight or be healthy, to buy a new house or new car, to plan for a vacation and so on. It's wonderful to do all you can do physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to achieve your goals. But if your happiness and self-worth are dependent on achieving these goals, and if you spend your time trying to control the outcome of things, you will not be a happy person and you will not feel worthy, even if you achieve all your goals.
We are talking about the difference between doing and being.
DO all you can do to achieve your goals, while BEING present, open, loving and caring with yourself and others. DO the work you need to do to achieve your goals, while BEING connected with yourself and with your spiritual guidance. DO the necessary loving actions to accomplish all that your heart desires, while BEING unattached to outcomes regarding your happiness and self-worth.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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It's a challenge to take responsibility for our own feelings when we are alone, and even more of a challenge when we are with others. Today, notice the various ways you make others responsible for your feelings - not speaking up, saying yes when you mean no, blaming, feeling hurt, waiting, people-pleasing, getting angry, withdrawing, numbing out, punishing, and so on. Just notice without judgment.
By Dr. Margaret Paul