Goals are great things. We need goals. We should write our goals down. They can give us direction and something to strive toward. However, there is also a darker side of goals.
Goals can become an obsession.
Over the past few months, I have really struggled with my weight. I set a goal to lose 10 lbs, and for the past year I seem to just be heading the wrong way. I try and watch what I eat (with mixed success) and work out on average 3-4 times a week. Yet, the numbers on the scale don’t cooperate. They don’t seem to be reflecting my effort, and this has deflated me on more than one occasion.
I know my identity isn’t a set of numbers on the scale, but when you have achieved goals in the past it is discouraging to have a harder time achieving them again. It can be easy to hear the voice that says, “Failure!”
This isn’t just true with fitness. I’ve had the same temptation with work, relationships, and writing. If something doesn’t turn out the way I want it, and if my goals go unachieved then I hear the shame filled condemnation. Then, if I pay heed to it, it can become a filter for my interactions with people and with God.
This is when a goal becomes an idol. When the goal becomes the center of who I am and all my actions center around achieving it, then I am a prisoner to what was supposed to be a good thing. You can tell your heading down this road when you do a simple inventory – what would you sacrifice for your goal?