When people set goals, they can fail to consider whether the goals are in line with their values or interests. The reasons can range from a lack of self-awareness to pursuing an impulsive goal because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
The goals that are in line with your interests and values are termed as concordant goals. In his book, “The Evolving Self”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said that an individual might never be able to reach his potential if the selected goals are not coherent with his interests and values.
It takes courage to try and achieve difficult goals. You face challenges, disappointments, and at times, a dead end. In this post, I will try to explain how disappointments and dead ends can be lessened by developing concordant goals.
Right now you might be starting on a goal or maybe you have realized that the goal you are pursuing is of no interest to you.
You should not consider changing your direction as an insult. As Theodore Roosevelt said, he respected a man, “who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”. You have already taken a courageous path, there is no shame in moving the direction in your favor.
When choosing a concordant goal, these are the important points to consider:
A Genuine Interest in the Goal
People have a tendency to go with whatever is trending or seems to be “in demand”. This is a wrong approach if you don’t have a basic interest in the field and you do not value the goal that you are trying to pursue.
Interest involves the kind of stuff that you were interested in as a child. When I was growing up, I always wanted to read and write. I remember stapling sheets of paper to make it look like a book and writing the book from scratch.
This interest has stayed with me for life. In my 20’s, I have been distracted by situational interests which I explored but most of them did not last long as they were not concordant goals.
Never Choose a Forced or Impulsive Goal
In cases where people have forced themselves to go through with a goal where they lacked interest or did not value it, they have reported being indifferent to the results which means they were not happy even if they achieved the goal.
It is also termed as controlledness where a person pursuing a goal feels like he is being forced to do tasks that he has not fully approved of, this results in giving up when tough situations arise.
Focus on Enjoying the Process
In my post about 5 ways to achieve your goals, I shared research which showed that a big part of achieving your goal is to enjoy the process. With that piece missing, you will lose interest and it is almost impossible to succeed.
This is the reason why I enjoy writing even when it requires a lot of effort to research and write.
This is true across the board, if a person has an interest in their goal, they will put in a more consistent effort and sustain through tough times.
Some people think that as the goal is in line with their personality, it would not feel hard. This is not true, it is because the goal is value-backed that an unpleasant activity is still tolerated since it moves them closer to the goal.
Life-Changing Effects of Concordant Goals:
When concordant goals are sincerely attempted, they can fulfill a much bigger purpose than the goal attainment itself!
Scientists found out that it can result in a feeling of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy means that a person has chosen to do what he feels right and the behavior is meaningful to him too. Competence means that a person can do a job reliably and he is capable of doing it well. Relatedness is a sense of belonging with others.
The scientists suggested that these three factors fulfill psychological needs that result in sustained motivation. If these three factors are part of your day, you will think of it as a good day.
Choosing a concordant goal has a positive domino effect. You will try harder when pursuing it, this would mean that you will have a better chance of attaining the goal.
You will feel more competent and able during the time you are trying to achieve your goal. As you spend more time in this activity, you will feel that you have more autonomy to pursue things that you want to pursue. This is because you are attempting things that you value and you have an interest in them.
As is the case with most concordant goals, there will be a sense of relatedness to others.
People that follow concordant goals but fail to achieve them face disappointment and frustration because the goals had a deeper meaning for them.
I would give my example here, writing this blog on a consistent basis is my goal. This is a concordant goal because I have had an interest in writing and reading since childhood. I also value good writing. This is why I work hard on my goal and do not let a writer’s block or occasional challenges bog me down.
As I think I can write well, spending time honing my skills makes me feel competent, and being able to complete a post gives me a feeling of reliability.
I spend more time researching for great content and work on my writing, it makes me feel autonomous because this is what I have always wanted to do.
Finally, I write this blog to help readers with the challenges they are facing in their lives. It makes me a feeling of connection with others who are struggling with the same things that I do. I also get help from a lot of sources that inform my writing.
If you are struggling with a goal or you feel like quitting, it would be a good idea to think about your interest in the goal and why you value it. You can have a goal of earning extra money for your family by doing a second shift but you value spending time with the family more. This is where you will not enjoy the experience.
Maybe finding work that can be done remotely would resonate with you. If it makes you feel autonomous, competent and you feel like you are having positive interactions with others, it will make you happier than you currently are.
You can use this approach to test any of the current or future goals that you want to keep for yourself. The research mentioned above shows that a well thought out goal can change your life in a much broader way than people usually think.