The Problem with Goals

I’m little wary about the idea of setting goals.

In a way, having goals makes us focus on what we lack, and it’s easy to link our happiness to the achievement of goals. But not all goals get achieved – in that case we postpone our happiness indefinitely.

In my first two years in door-to-door sales, I was encouraged to set sales and commission goals by my managers, so I did. Both years, I fell way short of the goal. Even though I did relatively well compared to my peers, and made two to four times the amount of money as I would have done had I stayed at my previous job, having that goal and missing it by so much was demoralizing.

In my third year of door-to-door sales – partly because of the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic – I didn’t set any sales or financial goals. In fact, I was almost certain that I wouldn’t beat the totals I had made the year before because our selling season was shortened. But, I ended up producing more than I had done the previous two years, in less than 60% of the time. Not only that, not having a goal made the whole process more enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still felt pressure to succeed – it was my first year managing a team and I was determined to show the new reps how the job could be done, as well as keeping our technician busy with work. Some may say, if I set a proper sales goal I may have achieved even more! Although I’m reluctant to agree with that, I can’t deny that it’s possible. Giving up having a goal in sales made it easier to do my job with the right principles – instead of focusing on getting a sale at all costs, I was focused on whether I was truly helping the person sitting in front me as my guiding principle.

It’s not that I didn’t set goals at all that year, it’s that I viewed them more like systems. I would decide how many days of the week I would be working, how many hours per day, when I would be going to sleep and waking up. Not only did I view them as systems, I focused on actions I could take instead of outcomes like sales since there was no way I could truly guarantee that someone else would say yes to my offering – there’s an element of luck involved with that.

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dongminglau

British-born Chinese guy who wants to inspire and help others by sharing wisdom and learning through one's own experiences. Main interests are health and fitness, psychology, sales and sports.

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