I like disciplines, things you do forever because they produce some result that you want that isn’t really a goal. Running a marathon is a goal, but having the energy to live the life you want requires a discipline that doesn’t have a finish line.
That said, goals are still critically important to your growth and your success.
Goals provide direction
The most important reason you need to set goals is because they provide direction. They cause you to take action that moves you. Look, if you have no goals, you’ll still move, but you’ll be drifting, directionless. You can waste a lot of time drifting.
Goals pull you in a direction of your choosing. They bring your intentions to life. Even if you decide later to change your goals and your direction, you’ll have greater momentum because you are already moving.
Goals provide a measurement
I practiced Aikido for a full year, believing I had made no progress, even though I had only really practiced with black belts throughout that time. When the Sensei brought in a new class, I was forced to work with people who had never been on a mat before that day. It was only then that I recognized my progress.
And so it is with goals. It’s not the attainment of goals that is so important; it is the progress. It’s the improvement. It’s the difference from where you were when you started on some path. With a goal, you can look back over the ground you covered and just how far you’ve come.
One of the greatest motivators available to you is growth. Goals help you grow, and they provide a measurement.
Goals provide feedback
Is what you are doing working? Is it moving you closer to what you want, or is it moving you further away?
It is important that you take action, disciplined action, towards the goals you are trying to obtain. But are those disciplined actions working? If what you are doing is moving you away from your goals, then your strategy is not working. That feedback tells you to change something. Maybe what you are doing isn’t going to work. Or maybe you just need to do more of it.
Where are you going? How do you intend to get there? How will you need to change and grow to be the person that accomplishes what you are setting out to do?