Why Forcing Yourself To Not Be Good Helps To Meet Goals By Christine Carter

Setting and achieving goals are two very different concepts. It’s incredibly easy to set a goal - it only takes a thought - but it’s significantly harder to actually meet that goal. Whether your goals are related to improving your physical or mental wellbeing, overcoming an injury or illness, or something else entirely, failing to meet them can be a depressing feeling.

But there’s a great secret to meeting goals more easily: stop trying to be good. While this might sound counter-intuitive, it makes perfect sense.

Setting Goals

Whether we actively think it or not, many of us set a goal and instantly expect to be the best at it. Say, for example, you’ve decided to start exercising more. It’s a common goal many people set in their lives for many different reasons. You go out, buy some exercising gear, maybe a smart watch, and plan to get going.

But then maybe this health kick only lasts a week or two. Exercising can be incredibly tiring, particularly if your body isn’t used to moving so much. Little by little (or all of sudden) you find you’ve given up on your goal.

This process remains pretty constant for almost all goals we set ourselves. Perhaps you’ve decided to write a book, start meditating, or learn a new hobby or skill in your free time. We jump into it full force and then quickly lose interest when things aren’t immediately perfect.

Embracing Being Bad

The easiest way to overcome this need for perfection is to acknowledge that you’re going to be bad at this new thing. This shouldn’t be a disheartening thought; we can’t all be great at everything immediately. If we’re willing to be bad at something, we’re not beaten down as easily when we are bad at that thing.

Being good at something requires a lot of motivation and effort. Being bad at something, however, arguably requires less effort and motivation. After all, running for 5 minutes (because that’s all you can handle at your current fitness level) is infinitely easier than trying to run for an hour.

But the real key is to start small and work up to the bigger behaviours. Being bad at something isn’t your main goal; that can remain the same main goal you previously had. Work towards it with small changes that build up over time.

For example, you want to start yoga for the mental and physical benefits it offers. 5 minutes a day is better than nothing, and is completely achievable even with no motivation. After all, it’s only 5 minutes of your time. Within a few weeks you’ll find it much easier to commit to longer and more intensive yoga sessions. And before you know it, you’ve reached your goal!


The key takeaway here is that, no matter what your goal, you should appreciate the value of being bad at it. Only then can you truly work towards being good at it. If you’d like to know more, renowned sociologist Christine Carter talks about it here.