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    Set Goals NOT Limits

    Set Goals NOT Limits by Patrick Mishler, AMFT, APCC

    How many times have you been asked to do something that you do not want to do? It is safe to say that at some point in our lives we will be asked to do something that causes us to say “I would rather (insert unpleasant thing here) than do that”. That is a dramatic response, but perhaps our negative reaction is only because we don’t have time in our busy schedule. Or maybe we have a fear related to what has been requested (clowns and going to the circus, anyone?) 

    So what do we do in this situation? Often we will set limits for ourselves in order to minimize the amount of discomfort we have to experience as a result of completing this terrifying task. So with the clowns and circus example, we might agree to go to the circus, BUT set a time limit of an hour or perhaps only go to the section of the circus where the animals and rides are (far away from those evil clowns). Sure, we completed the unpleasant task we were asked to do, but did we grow or improve? What could we have done to evolve ourselves further?

    Instead of setting that limit for ourselves we could have simply set goals. But how exactly does a goal benefit us more than a limit? 

    When we set a limit we will, more times than not, reach the limit we have set for ourselves and we will immediately stop whatever it is we are doing. This action does not cause us to push beyond our threshold and build our tolerance.

    In setting limits for ourselves we are in fact limiting our potential for growth. We are telling ourselves we are incapable of more.

    If we set a goal we do not limit ourselves. We can reach that point and go beyond which builds our tolerance higher and challenges us to push harder.

    When we set a goal and we are able to meet it, that can be viewed as a win for us, but we can also push beyond that initial goal and set a new goal to meet, giving us another win. Maybe we shoot for double? Triple? You decide. 

    Even if we are only capable of reaching our goal and cannot push beyond it, we still accomplished our goal. This can be used as motivation for the future. “I did it before and I can do that again!”

    The important thing to note is when setting goals we are making them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based (SMART) goals. If we set unrealistic or unattainable goals, we are setting ourselves up for failure from the start.

    So the next time you are in a situation where you would normally limit yourself, I challenge you to give yourself a goal and then crush it.