The journey toward our dreams is often more valuable than the destination. Maybe you’ve set ambitious goals but are wishing for the shortest, easiest path to get there. It’s only natural. Who doesn’t want their dreams fulfilled as swiftly and smoothly as possible? The flipside though, is missing out on the side effects of going after your goals, dreams, or desires.
Where goal setting falls short
Think about running a marathon, for example. It’s a goal that many people, athletic or not, decide to tackle. Ever wondered why? Of course, part of it is about getting in shape, challenging oneself physically, and proving you can undertake such a demanding task. But it’s deeper than that.
Running a marathon is about pushing your boundaries, creating habits of discipline, building a strong work ethic, and discovering your true capabilities. It’s not about the finish line on the day of the marathon itself. It’s about who you become during your rigorous training leading up to that moment. If I could magically give you the ability to run a marathon tomorrow with no obstacles, would you still be a disciplined athlete?
The real goal is to transform yourself, both mentally and physically, to accomplish something that’s incredibly challenging and that most people never attempt. Finishing a marathon doesn’t bring monetary rewards, change your social status, or even ensure long-term fitness, as many people go back to their old habits after a few races. But every person who signs up for it knows that it will change who they are. That’s the side effect of the goal – the real prize.
Beyond the finish line
The side effects of going after your goals apply to all your desires and dreams, not just marathon running. I often talk to people who believe that changing their job or career will magically make everything better. They think they’ll find happiness once they switch careers. The reality is, if you already knew how to take massive action and overcome self-doubt, you probably wouldn’t be stuck in a career you dislike.
Changing jobs, careers, or starting a business can only serve as a vehicle for personal growth if you use it as an opportunity to work on yourself. Work to break free from the patterns that have held you back, like people-pleasing, indecision, or allowing others’ opinions to run your life.
I’ve seen clients who want to quit their careers and start new ventures but are crippled by the fear of what others will think. They contemplate starting a blog anonymously or hiding their true identity. What they don’t realize is that the problem isn’t their career or business idea; it’s their fear of judgment and the inability to be comfortable with discomfort. The real goal isn’t to have a different career, but to overcome the fear of other people’s opinions as you set foot on a new career path.
The hidden value
I’ve personally experienced growth from the side effects of my goals in my own journey. I now have a podcast and a growing business, and I absolutely love the work I do. But what makes me most proud of my journey isn’t the external success; it’s the internal transformations I’ve undergone. I’ve significantly reduced my need to be universally liked. I can make decisions without crippling indecision, and I’ve become comfortable with uncertainty.
Guilt used to run my life. I felt guilty about every decision, big or small. It was suffocating. Now, I’ve learned not to take on other people’s responsibilities, emotions, and needs. I’ve realized that I can trust myself to have my own back.
The side effects of my journey are what make it all worthwhile. These side effects are the foundation of my entire business. If I had simply transitioned from law to business with no fear, no doubt, no external judgment, how could I ever relate to people who face these challenges? The only reason I can genuinely help others is that I’ve felt the same way and experienced the same obstacles.
Every challenge is an opportunity
The problems are the basis of our growth. The obstacles we face are how we evolve and become stronger, wiser, and more resilient. Yes, it’s hard and it might make you feel uncomfortable, or bring up a lot of emotions. But every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow.
The next time you’re confronted with an obstacle, a challenge, or a fear in the pursuit of your dreams, don’t wish it away or try to short cut it. Instead, view it as an integral part of your journey. Consider the side effects you have to gain from it. For help setting goals and a community to cheer you on, join us inside the Quitter Club.