Beware of goals
4 min read

Beware of goals

Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where 3,598 subscribers get better at content creation and strategy in less than 5 minutes.


Have you ever heard an international soccer — ahem, I mean, football — announcer shout this when their team scores?

Few things are more entertaining. It’s excitement and bliss wrapped up in one vocal display of celebration.

Those feelings are why many of us chase goals. Because setting and achieving them is pure elation.

Goals have a lot of positive qualities — they provide focus, accountability, and motivation to  grow.  

But there’s also a dangerous side to goals.

Beware of 'goal fixation’

Goal fixation is when reaching a goal becomes obsessive, and as a result, bad decisions follow.

It creates a type of tunnel vision, causing you to make poor, short-sighted choices that might help you reach the goal, but to the detriment of other parts of your business — including your own wellbeing.

Here are some common “tunnel vision trade offs":

1. Let’s say you want a promotion. So, you decide to put in more hours to prove yourself to your boss. Soon you’ve poured hours into your work.

Consequently, you neglect your friends, family, and hobbies. The result? Your fulfilling, personal relationships fade and weaken in exchange for career advancement.

2. Or maybe you’re on the hunt to grow your LI presence, so you commit to posting every single day to boost your numbers.

But you quickly realize the time commitment is more than you were prepared for, so in order to pump out the volume, you spend less time and attention on each post. Instead of scaling back, you cut corners.

The result? Pressure builds as you hold yourself accountable, you lose joy in the process of creating (which is why you started in the first place), and your confidence fades because your content isn’t performing. Not good.

3. Last one: You want to hit your monthly quota. So you fixate on the revenue you need to bring in by the 31st. Your inner voice becomes obsessed with reaching quota.

So you devote all your energy and attention towards it, you’re checking email at all hours of the day, and your mood is dictated by the most recent deal update. You completely brush off building pipeline for next month. It’s now or never!!

Maybe your deals come in, maybe they slip. Either way, you’re stressed, unhappy, and have zero momentum for next month.

Phew. That's a lot.  

Put another way, goal fixation causes you to march toward your goal relentlessly, unable to see that the cost of achieving the goal begins to outweigh the benefits of reaching it.

Worth noting: There’s nothing wrong with sacrifice. Success comes with a price.

But when this trade off is unintentional, and the sacrifice is greater than the reward, then it becomes a real issue.

So what’s the answer? Nix goals altogether?

Not quite.

Focus on this instead

Ironically, goal fixation doesn’t bring us closer to our desired results.

Instead of focusing on the end result, hone in on your craft.

Spend energy on the fundamentals, zero in on your passion for your craft, and rediscover the joy of progress.

When you prioritize doing your best work, you'll enjoy it more, reach your potential, and increase the likelihood of success.

Here’s how to spot — and avoid — goal fixation

You might be goal fixating and not even know. Here are a few common symptoms:

  • Constantly thinking about the goal or KPI
  • Checking dashboards multiple times an hour to track progress
  • Progress (or lack of) has a severe negative impact on your mood
  • Concentrating on anything except your goal is nearly impossible
  • Working towards the goal has become joyless and feels like a chore
  • You instincts tell you something is wrong, but you ignore it because “I have to hit the gong!... I mean, goal!!”

If you nodded to any of those bullets, don’t trip! It’s a great thing to realize because now you can take action.

Let’s wrap with a three tactics you can use to fend off this unproductive and unenjoyable mindset:

1) Reflect and reset

Changing your perception begins with awareness.

Take a look at your goal(s) and answer these questions honestly:

  • Am I measuring the right thing?
  • Is this really the best way to spend my time and energy?
  • Is this tradeoff worth it?

If you answered “No,” then it’s time to reset and make adjustments.

2) Heat check your goals

Sometimes you realize that how you decided to measure the goal is incorrect.

If you’re working towards a long-term goal, sometimes new information is introduced or new priorities arise.

Maybe your projections were off, or the market shifts, or you have a personal issue. Give yourself the grace of changing or extending your goals so you can enjoy the process of improvement.

3) Abort mission

It’s easier said than done, I get it.

Demanding bosses, rising expectations, unrelenting workloads don’t exactly invite “chilling out” when it comes to hitting goals.

But sometimes, that’s what’s needed.

Remember, many of the goals — and the pressure of reaching them — are created by ourselves.

So, as my mom used to say (in jest, I think), “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.”

Same applies to our goals.

I struggle with this too

I’m sharing this with you because I went through this process a few weeks ago. I was stressed and needed a change.

Plus I’ve noticed that the majority of the content creators I talk to are overwhelmed.

Don’t let the pressure prevent you from focusing on what’s important: Doing your best work and enjoying the ride.

Holler at you next Saturday,

Did you like today’s episode? If yes, I’d be honored if you shared this link with your colleagues or on LinkedIn. Here’s an example from Lydia Winn for inspiration.