• Jessica James

Why Millennials Find Goal Setting Soul Destroying

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

How are we supposed to know what we are going to enjoy and want to bring into our lives just based on the thought of it alone?

This was the first image when I typed in 'goal' how hard could this have been without a backpack? No snacks? WOW.

Have you ever felt super inspired, written down a bunch of goals and then never reached them? Or reached one or two and then kind of lost sight of the other ones? Or if you’re like me, written a few low-hanging fruit goals in amongst the harder long-term ones just to tick them off an boost morale but then lost your steam to achieve the bigger ones. Why is that?

A part of me feels like our generation just didn’t get the memo on what it means to be patient, resilient and persistent through inevitable FAILURE.

Taking us back to my first shot at university, fresh out of school. I fought so hard to justify my passion for film + creative writing, that I arrived on day one with a pair of the biggest rose-coloured glasses. Sure in high school I was an A-grade English student and one of the top film students, but these things meant diddly-squat to the bigger pool of fish I was now swimming with. That reality shock in itself was enough to have me running away. No one told me that being average at first would be part of the process. I was under the assumption that the things we are supposed to do in life, are the things that

a) we are naturally very good at and can top a class no worries

b) we receive constant praise and recognition for

c) things we are NEVER considered ‘bad’ at

The first assignment I handed in, I got an HD – great. Things are going well here. Second assignment – C…



That’s it I’m out.

I kid you not, it was a combination of the 3-hour daily commute and my lack of self-belief that I could make it in that industry after I got ONE CREDIT.  No one around me at the time asked me, do you really love this? If you do.. stick it out. You will learn, you will get better. HAVE PATIENCE. I wish I could tell that to every kid on the planet who thinks the way I did.

I don’t regret anything in my life but I often wonder where I would be if I had stayed on that course right from the word go. If I had been like everyone else and seen the whole university thing as a worthwhile pursuit of my time and stuck it out instead of searching around everywhere to find where my feet could land.

Ultimately one day you have to stop looking out there and start working on what’s in front of you to find what makes you truly happy through experience.

Now to the point of my post today. GOAL SETTING. I find it incredibly difficult because HOW are we supposed to know what we are going to enjoy and want to bring into our lives just based on the thought of it alone.

If you had asked me 12 months ago, “hey Jessica would you like a job in Marketing?” I would have said, “HELL NO, that sounds like business and I don’t like selling things to people for the sake of selling things.” Yet here I am…

Also, so many of our goals are based on the expectations and goals of those around us. We barely give ourselves a hot minute of mindfulness when we are on the toilet let alone enough time to process what we could be doing to bring more joy into our lives. And striving for things?! Pfft… why bother? When you have a trillion hours of television to watch, WHO CARES about goals? So I think even when the little voice pops up inside of us and says, ‘hey I think that would be really cool and a worthwhile way to spend my time’ – First of all YAY, what does he have to say? But secondly, ask the question, is that really my voice, or is it, someone else’s around me? Because understanding who’s voice it is will prevent you from falling into the trap.

The trap?

What’s the trap?

The trap of:

Setting a goal you couldn’t give two flying fucks about, but you feel obligated to strive for based on the views you’ve absorbed from society (or your friends/family/colleagues etc.)

That trap…

It’s a very dangerous trap to get into because I know from experience that if I have set an ambitious goal that doesn’t actually align with who I am… I have no motivation to work towards it. The goal becomes this looming dark cloud over your head, haunting you at any/every moment as to why you’re failing at not doing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are many reasons why we might not feel able to work towards a goal at any given time. Having unauthentic goals is just one of these reasons. But I think it is a big one.

Working out what your true authentic goals are, IS HARD. That’s why not many people do it. It’s easier to steal other people’s goals because they sound like the could be yours too. But if they don’t set your heart on fire, why bother? Go light your own fire. 

This is really in my mind at the moment because I have had this incessant loop going over and over in my head about running goals and getting up every morning and running and why don’t I just go and honestly… I don’t think running is my calling right now. Sure I enjoy it, on weekends I love spending time on the mountain, but I’m not jumping out of my skin to run.

But swimming is really exciting for me, I’m going to go and play with that for a while and see what happens. I recognised that in my work I am surrounded by runners who are wanting to up their game, get better and faster. I had to really check in with myself and see if the expectations I had in my head were really mine, or someone else’s.

Honestly though, with everything that goes on in my head.. I could still have authentic running goals, but I think I just need to break the thought pattern for a bit to see. Gah! See, we are not perfect. But we have more time to get everything done that we want to at a more digestible pace than what we think we do. I could be a millionaire by the end of the month and never have to work another day in my life and then what does resilience and patience mean to me when I’ve literally got free rein of the world. Hmm… an interesting question.

What do you think about goal setting? Does it work for you? I’m still in two-minds…

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