Why Setting Goals is the Worst Approach to Take? Top 6 Reasons to Focus on Skills. A True Story
There are moments in life which are hard to escape. Like when someone almost half your age gives you advice on how to do something better, and they are 1000% right.
The thing is about life, if you're lucky enough not to worry about food, shelter, or bombs overhead, then you my friend have the enviable but also very difficult task to decide what it is you do with your time, and how you prioritize the things that matter to you.
My approach for years has been work hard and maybe if there's time after, figure out what I could have done better.
But maybe the secret to a great life is pulling the throttle back just a little to try something new...
Why Setting Goals is The Worst Approach to Take
A few days ago, I was at the gym, a place I've been frequenting on a regular basis for 23 years, when something humbling happened.
I'd just completed my first set on the bench press, when a man came over and said something about "sharing."
I assumed the man meant jumping in for a set, and sharing the bench press.
But that wasn't it. he said, "No, do you mind if I share some advice with you, about how you're lifting?"
The man I'd never met before went on to give me directions and corrections on what I was doing wrong. He said, "Once I starting doing bench press like this, I could lift 25-50% more."
I was skeptical, but gave it a try, and to my amazement, on my second set, I was able to double the amount I lifted in the first. And the same thing happened in the third set too!
Astounded, I asked how the man, who introduced himself as Zac, knew about this technique?
His reply was humble and simple, "Oh, I just like to follow a few weight lifting experts so I can learn new skills."
And there it was. The jarring moment of truth, because not only did Zac give the correct formula for a particular lift, he also gave me a much more important reminder, and lesson on life:
"Don't Set Goals. Learn New Skills!"
Top 6 Reasons to Focus on Learning New Skills
1. Learning skills is by definition what working smarter and not harder is all about.
2. Learning new skills ups your game & improves your efficiency.
3. Learning new skills shows you what you've been doing wrong for years.
4. Learning new skills expands your toolkit.
5. Learning new skills is also a reminder that us humans were designed to always be learning!
It dawned on me, in that moment, in this age of so much free information from experts around the world happy to share what they have learn, I had spent zero hours per week researching better ways to work out.
6. Focusing on Goals can actually stop you from learning!
And the reason was because I'd set a goal for myself to simply workout 2-3 times per week and I was meeting that goal. I didn't know by setting a goal, I wasn't actually improving or learning in any way.
Now the Humbling Part of the Story
Back at the gym, I was given this advice by someone almost half my age.
At 43 I've lived and worked out in gyms around the world for over two decades.
But Zac, aged 27, gave me some much needed advice at our local community centre gym.
The irony is I've known about the 'skills not goals' idea for some time now.
Over the past six months, I've been focused on not just completing a writing project, but also becoming a more skilled writer. This means each week, I'm studying what the experts do, and apply it to my craft.
But the bigger lesson Zac showed me was that 'skills not goals' is something each of us can and should apply to almost any area of our lives.
Areas we enjoy are still areas we can improve.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time, stay inspired.