Do Goals Limit You?

Do goals limit you?  Have you ever even thought about that question?

Last night, I took a break and watched some famous chefs telling people about great foods in US restaurants.  At one point, an interviewer asked one of these successful chefs about goal setting.

The chef replied something to the effect, “I don’t set goals.  They limit me too much”.  That got me thinking because I know that to be a great chef, a person needs to be very creative and continuously learning.

I had never thought about goals limiting an individual.  We’ve been taught that setting goals is imperative to success.

I thought about it.  In a way, it’s true.  To set goals and ride after them does limit a person from pursuing whatever “pops up”.  However, whatever pops up might send a person into a multitude of directions and they end up nowhere.

But what had made this person an acclaimed chef?  Was it a desire, a goal to be a great chef? 

It’s likely true that this chef had not set any formal goals because the main goal absorbed the whole being.  To be a great chef, of course, a lot of training is required from the right instructors at the right schools, work in the right kitchens, get known by other chefs, and then, eventually, create a definitive, winning style. 

Nonetheless, the goal had been set, informally – in the chef’s head at the beginning of the journey – destination:  great chef.

If you know anything about becoming a chef, you know that becoming a great one is all consuming – a person lives, breathes, thinks and is totally absorbed in food and food preparation – it’s a vocation almost – they’ll do it for free if they have to!  The dedication and hard work is far beyond any other profession on the planet!  It’s not surprising – look at all the pleasure they bring to other people and the satisfaction of becoming so good at what you do, you know in your whole being that you are consistently creating the best you can create!  They know too that not all great chefs become well-known or make millions of dollars but they do it for the love of it – true love – like few other professions can boast.

So . . . yes, this chef did set a goal – but not formally.  And this chef achieved that goal and continues to achieve it because it’s  forever evolving – some goals are like that – the goals never really end during a person’s life time.  And chefs never retire – they just keep on cooking all their lives!   But, without having set that initial goal to be a great chef, this person may have ended up being a plumber!

Does goal setting limit you?  Yes – it does – to achieving what you want. 

Is that a good thing?  It can be as long as you know what you want.  If you don’t know what you want, then setting goals can be as devastating as not setting them. 

Like the chef, when the right goal is set because that’s what you really, really want, then the momentum begins, the energy is directed – it’s like a car – when you know the route, you steer the car in that direction and propel it forward to your destination by stepping on the gas – the car doesn’t wonder all over the road, backstreets nor in the opposite direction.  There might be some stops along the way, some detours and some pot holes, but, you get there.  It’s the same with goals – set and go – expect things to get in your way but you know what you want at the start. 

Lorraine Arams
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