Does “Need” have a place in personal goal-setting?

Meet Beth Ann…
Beth Ann looks in the mirror and does not like what she sees. “I am so fat.” she says to herself in a whisper. She feels angry and hopeless. In that moment she thinks that she cannot continue to go on like this and decides that she has to do something.

Once again, Beth Ann decides in desperation that she must lose 45 pounds as quickly as possible and with tears in her eyes she searches the internet for a new way to reach an old goal.

Meet Todd…
Todd goes to the ATM to withdraw money for lunch. When he checks the balance on his account he discovers that he only has $119.34. He has 10 days before his next paycheck and suddenly he gets that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach as he realizes that two days ago he wrote a check to the utility company and another to his daughter’s school that will overdraw the account.

In that moment he decides that he cannot continue to live like this and, again, vows that he will one day become financially independent.

What do Beth Ann and Todd have in common? They are both setting potentially life changing goals while in an emotional state of need.

What about you…
We all do it from time to time. You have a bad day at work and while in a state of frustration on the drive home you decide that you really need to be your own boss so you start looking for business opportunities. A friend says something that you don’t like and you decide that you need new friends so you set a goal of getting out more and expanding your social circle. You have a point to make and you feel like you need to be heard so you set out to convince the world of how smart you are.

In most cases the emotion passes like a quick storm on a hot summer day, but there are times when we make decisions that last beyond the moment and set goals to change our life based on the perceived lack we are experiencing.

You may be thinking “Andrew, that’s what you should do. The best time to set a goal is when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I don’t totally disagree with you. When you hit, what feels like, the bottom it is better to decide to pick yourself up than it is to just wallow in despair, but is this really the best time to set life changing goals?

Consider this…
“Need” is a subjective state-of-mind that when satisfied most often temporarily improves the conditions in a person’s life, but not necessarily the person. What do I mean?
People often come to me because they want/need more. More money, more love, more balance, more productivity, more business, more energy, more peace, more purpose, more joy, more magnetism and charm.
However, the real progress happens when a client realizes that it is not about what you attain or obtain, it’s about who you become in the process.

Hold up…
In one of my Seven Goal-Setting Secrets of Super Successful People Seminars, a participant raised her hand and said, “Forget about who I might become. I need the conditions in my life to change right now, because right now I am not where I want to be.”

Let me share with you the three challenges to setting need based goals, why they seldom work, and a more effective way to set big goals..

Challenge #1: Being taken advantaged of…
When you are in a heightened state of need you typically look for immediate results. You want a quick fix to reverse the results of what you’ve been routinely doing for a while. The two biggest examples of this would be:

• Quick-weight-loss diet programs
• Get-rich-schemes

Both are multi-billion dollar industries built solely on the collective desires of people who want immediate results at all cost. Not all are bad, but because there are so many it makes it hard to find real solutions to the challenges you may be facing. And the more desperate you are the more open you are to false promises and empty offers.

Challenge #2: Ineffectiveness
Highly-emotional need based goals/intentions typically don’t work over time.

When you focus on the apparent need (the symptom) and not the real problem (the cause) it’s just a matter of time before the real problem produces another symptom. In some cases it produces a second symptom that's worse than the first. It is like mowing dandelions. The lawn may look neat and even at first, but in the process you've spread the seeds and left the root.

In Todd’s case the need for more money was really a symptom of a lack financial discipline and a mediocre work ethic. In the past when he focused on the symptom, a lack of money, he ended up wasting his limited resources on get-rich-quick-schemes.

Challenge #3: High Stress
Need based goals tend to be the most stressful because they are often based on something we are resisting in our life.

I’ve learned that whenever I have more work than I can do in one day to simply accept the fact that I have a heavy work load and figure out a way to get it done. At one point I would resist this reality by saying things like, “I can’t believe I have so much to do.”, “This is impossible.”, “I’ll never get all of this done.” Thoughts like these would always lead to high stress and low productivity.

A Better Way
Here are five easy steps that will help you to set your goals and intentions based on personal growth and not personal need. When faced with a problem that you want to establish a goal to eliminate, do the following:

1. Accept the situation for what it is
Your current situation is simply the place that you have arrived as a result of what you have been doing in the recent or distant past. You can’t change the past so don’t dwell on regrets. When you stop resisting your current situation by simply saying that you accept what is, you become present. Your focus is not on a memory that you can’t change or on worrying about what could happen. You are in the moment and in the moment you have the power to move in the direction of your choosing.

When you accept the situations in your life without judging them as good or bad the stress literally melts away. When the stress melts away you are clear to find the best way to reach your objective.

2. Look at the big picture
Your life is bigger than what just happened. Don’t make it small. Count your blessings. Focus on the positive. Look at your entire life and not a just one narrow aspect of it.

Most of the negative feelings that we experience come from a preoccupation with ourselves. Get outside of yourself. Think about the needs of other people and how you can make a difference in their lives using the gifts that you have.
Goals that focus on the needs of others have the power to attract people, organizations, and resources to get them done.

3. Look for the core problem or opportunity.
Ask yourself:
•“Is this a recurring problem?”
•"Where is this coming from?”
•“What’s feeding this?”

4. Set a lifestyle goal to address the core problem.
• What skill, talent, or character trait do I need to develop to overcome this challenge?
• Who do I need to become in order to maintain the results I want to produce?

5. Set daily action goals to address the immediate need.
• What steps do I need to take today to begin my transformation?
• Who can I call?
• What can I learn to help me improve in this area?
• What routine or habit do I need to develop to reach and maintain my goal?

Remember, in the end it’s the person that you become not the things that you get or the goals that you reach that will have the most lasting impression on your life.

In Beth Ann’s case her lifestyle goal is to become a person who only eats healthy food and engages in physical activity at least three times a week. She is losing weight and has increased her energy level. She feels good about the changes that she sees in herself and the control that feel she has over her life.

As for Todd, his lifestyle goal is to become a person who manages his time, money, and energy in a responsible and profitable manner. He has found two good people to model and he has reduced his financial stress almost down to nothing. He has a clear picture of what financial discipline looks like and he is becoming a daily reflection of that picture.

Closing question: Are your current goals transforming you into a stronger, wiser, and more enlightened person or are they just getting you what you need?

Author's Bio: 

L. Andrew Morgan is known as The Goals Coach by coaching clients, seminar participants, and more than 230,000 people around the world who enjoy his success messages via Twitter.

He is the author of "About Goals: The Daily Goals Tool Kit", and "About Goals: 101+ Quick Tips to Reach Your Goals". In addition, he has developed tools such as the "About Goals: Life-Motion Study" and "The About Goals Daily Journal", all designed to help achievers find clarity and focus to reach their objectives faster.

He currently lives on the East coast in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is the President of Break Out! Seminars and the founder of Http://