Why You Probably Don’t Set Goals — and How To Change That

By: Martin Grunburg

In a prior article we reviewed how goal-achievement can be considered simply problem-solving.

It’s a bit of a cliche to share that problems are only opportunities in disguise. We know the legendary stories of great problems that have birthed inventions and humanity-changing discoveries —  the polio vaccine, the steam engine, the telegraph — the examples are truly endless.

The flip side, though, is that most of us are wired to avoid problems whenever possible. I cannot count just how many times I’ve actually said, “I’d rather avoid that particular problem right now.”

Typically, if a problem can be avoided, it will be avoided. Problems, then, become the birthplace of procrastination. God knows the best time to clean and organize (pick any room, closet or garage) is when there is a project due.

Yet, in their most basic form, problems are a manifestation of pressure, aren’t they?

And we tend to correlate pressure with resistance or a feeling of pain.

In The Pressure Paradox™ we examine pressure at length (great length) and review that goal achievement is really just an attempt to span the gap between an existing, current state and an ideal end state. It’s that gap that creates tension or, to use its synonym, pressure.

So, if goal-setting is just problem-solving, and problems equate to pressure, it stands to reason that people who have developed a threshold — even a minor tolerance for pain, frustration and setbacks — are most likely to achieve their goals and (here’s a KEY POINT) even set goals in the first place!

If you don’t set goals you are not alone; reportedly upwards of 50% of people do not set goals at all, and 97% of people who do set goals don’t write them down.

Goals = resistance, and resistance is created by pressure.

Having said that, let’s attempt to understand pressure and its intrinsic value.

You could easily contend that pressure is the most creative force in the universe. In fact, the universe itself (if the Big Bang theory is even remotely accurate) owes itself to pressure.

Therefore, on a molecular/atomic level, your very existence can be traced to pressure.

So, when’s the last time you thought about pressure as the creative force in the universe?

Now, would that understanding make this unique force a friend or a foe?

Since goal achievement is simply problem-solving, and problems are pressure in the form of resistance, how we respond to pressure — even how we understand pressure — makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

Therefore, it stands to reason that goal-achievement begins with our capacity to lean in to pressure, to accept the challenge…to embrace some pain.

Unfortunately, some people, often labeled as “drifters,” likely drift not by choice but rather by default. It appears they’ve chosen to avoid pressure — the pain of setting and trying to achieve goals.

Sure, temporary drifting can be refreshing and even exciting. However, prolonged, aimless drifting can be dangerous for your soul and can kill self-confidence.

The choices, then, as they relate to pressure, become more evident. We can choose to lean in to pressure — a temporary pain — in the pursuit of our goals and ideals, or we can choose to avoid pain and seek a constant sort of pleasure and comfort that, ultimately, will produce an even more enduring pain.

Jim Rohn summed this up brilliantly when he said, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Know Thyself>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about pressure and your goal-setting habits:

When I think about pressure, I think ___________ and feel ______________

When I think about setting a goal, the first thought that comes to mind is:

My tolerance for pain related to growth experiences, on a  scale of 1-10, is:


My daily life is extremely comfortable:

True   |   False

Once a year I achieve a major goal:

True    |   False

For a more in-depth assessment of your own Pressure tolerance and inclinations, you may want to try this quick Pressure Assessment,

And, if you haven’t already, check our The Pressure Paradox™. You can read a free preview or, “look inside”.

Have a great week and let me know what you think!


Previous Post
Next Post