Avoiding Conflicting Goals

Do any of your goals conflict with each other? A classic example of this is the work-life balance dilemma where you have the following two goals:

Goal 1: Spend more quality time with my spouse and family.

Goal 2: Get promoted two levels within the next year.

Obviously, both of these goals require a substantial amount of the same resource: your time. Knowing that forgetting about sleeping and spending 12 hours per day with your family and 12 hours per day at work is unrealistic, you’ll quickly find yourself frustrated. And you’d have plenty of company as there are probably thousands of so-called experts who make their living preaching about work-life balance. I’ll give you my short course and this one’s on the house.

When you have two of more goals that conflict with each other, you need to dig a little deeper to understand what you’re really aiming for. We’ll use the work-life balance example and examine each goal individually.

So why do you want to spend more quality time with your family? Perhaps you want a loving relationship with your spouse as it makes you feel loved, attractive and appreciated. Maybe you want a stronger connection with your children because you want to guide them, help them avoid harm & pain and feel proud of the way you’ve raised them. Essentially, you want to feel the following ways: loved, a connection with your family, appreciated & proud.

What about getting promoted? Perhaps you want more money (and maybe that money translates to freedom or being able to do more for those you love). Maybe your focus is on executive perks such as a bigger office, a reserved parking spot because it makes you feel important, powerful or prestegious.

One you get to the bottom of why you want to achieve your goals, you can rank these feelings in order. If being loved and a connection with your family is most important to you, then it’s time to find another way to fulfill your need for prestige and power.  If sitting in a cubical that doesn’t get any natural light depresses you, perhaps you’d be happier working for a smaller company where everyone gets a private office with a window. If money is what you need, perhaps you could investigate reducing your expenses so your current income is sufficient.

You may realize that some feelings are no longer important to you. This happened to me when I was developing my goal setting workshop and going through the exercises. I listed owning a Lamborghini as a top goal. After spending 20 minutes trying to write two paragraphs about why I must have this car, I realized that I wasn’t as passionate about this goal as I was a decade ago.

So when you find yourself with conflicting goals, you simply need to understand why the goals are important to you and how achieving them will make you feel. By analyzing the situation, you may find that changing or eliminating some of your goals may help you reach the outcome you want.

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