Do Goals Expire?
by Jennifer Radkey
A compelling question came up in a recent coaching call with a client: When is the last time you took inventory of your goals?
Like many other people, my client is a goal-setter, and not just small goals but big life goals. These goals follow all of the “rules” of goal setting: they are clearly written, attainable, and measurable.
Some of the goals are achieved and checked off the list and new goals have been made. And yet there is still a feeling of dissatisfaction.
So where is this feeling coming from?
We are always changing and adapting to the world around us. We are changed by life circumstances. We’re influenced by the places we visit and the people we meet. We grow, and over time we come to deeper understandings of what we value and want from life.
As we grow and change our goals do as well…but what do we do with our old goals? What do we do with goals that are no longer applicable to our life?
Do goals expire?
The answer is yes. Goals can expire. What you wanted for your life when you were 16 is most likely not what you want for your life now. The career goals you set in your early 20s probably do not apply to you in your 30s. The goals geared towards interests you had in your 30s may not apply in your 40s, etc.
This doesn’t just apply to personal goals, either.
If you own a business, the goals you have for your business can expire as well. It’s why business plans need to be revisited yearly.
The goals you had when you first opened may have changed in the year(s) since. A business can be likened to a living, breathing entity. It grows and adapts and interacts with the environment surrounding it.
Targets will be hit, new objectives will be identified. So, what do we do with our old goals?
If old, unmet goals are not recognized and processed, they will sit as unfinished business in the back of your mind. You may be acquiring all kinds of levels of success and achieving new goals, but if you are allowing old goals to remain without acknowledging them, it will show up in your mindset.
This can manifest as dissatisfaction, disappointment, confusion, anxiousness, a general feeling that something is “off,” or a never-ending quest for perfection.
So, what do we do with expired goals?
It’s time to sit down and take inventory of all of the goals you have for your life or business. The new and the old. The unmet and those in progress.
If you are like many of us on the path to success and self-improvement, this may be a lengthy list. Try categorizing goals to make them more approachable.
Once you have listed all of your goals it’s time to get real with them and ask yourself some questions:
- Why was this goal unmet?
- Why was it important, at the time, to have this goal?
- What feelings are associated with this goal?
- Most importantly: Does this goal serve me now?
If the goal no longer fits in your life, if it no longer serves a purpose, it is time for that goal to expire.
It’s okay to let go and move on.
Make peace with the fact that a goal can belong in a previous part of your life but does not need to be a part of your life now.
Accept that it was not completed, give yourself compassion, and move on. That goal does not need to take up space in your thoughts anymore.
If a goal still serves a purpose now and you would like to keep it, ask yourself why it is so important to you to keep that goal. Then ask yourself why it hasn’t been achieved yet.
Is this goal important enough to keep it and strategize new ways to break it down and make it achievable? If the answer is yes, great! Sit down with that goal, rewrite it, and come up with a new action plan to achieve it.
If the answer is no, let that goal expire, and let it go.
This process will take time and introspection but will provide you with overwhelming relief and a new sense of clarity.
Life is too short to hold onto expired dreams and goals! Give yourself freedom to be present and future focused, without unfinished business holding you down.
Cheers to personal and professional growth!