One of the secrets to being a successful woman is knowing when to keep pursuing your goals, and when to give up. These tips for successful life planning are inspired by quotations from Serena Williams – and they involve knowing when it’s time to give up on unhealthy goals and when it’s time to set new intentions…
“Luck has nothing to do with [my success], because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come,” said tennis champion Serena Williams.
That’s the “10,000 hours of practice for successful people” rule, which Malcolm Gladwell describes in Outliers: The Story of Success. But, before you can practice anything for 10,000 hours, you first need to figure out if your goals are worth pursuing! Here, a psychologist and two life coaches (all published authors!) describe why giving up on unhealthy goals is an important part of creating a successful life plan.
Evaluating Your Personal or Professional Goals
Persistence and pursuing goals is admirable – especially when you think of female entrepreneurs who start their own successful businesses and somehow beat all odds to succeed. Yet, research shows that dogged determination can lead to depression, helplessness, and a weakened immune system.
Dana S. Dunn, Professor of Social Psychology at the Moravian College in Pennsylvania and author of Research Methods for Social Psychology, says that remarkable accomplishments do happen, but they’re not the norm.
“We tend to overgeneralize from a handful of instances in which people do amazing things,” says Dunn. “The danger of looking at people who succeeded against all odds is that we don’t know how they got there. We don’t necessarily know the steps they took, their background, or the support they had.”
The notions of persistence and accomplishment are embedded in many of our communities, workplaces, and families. “We’re socialized that we must always succeed, but we don’t always recognize that we’re limited by resources such as time, circumstance, and ability,” says Dunn. “Motivation isn’t the problem. Our own infrastructure can hold us back. We don’t always have the right education, technical expertise, or resources.”
Recognizing our limitations is key to achieving our goals and creating a successful life plan.
How to Recognize Unhealthy Goals
“It may be time to re-evaluate your goals when you’ve lost your joy or you’re not making as much of an effort,” says life coach Susan Wilson, author of Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals. “If you dread the thought of the goal, you’ve lost your creativity, or you resent the time and energy it takes, then you might consider a different approach. Difficult goals are challenging, but the obstacles will be balanced by the joy of pushing through and seeing benefits. If the negative parts of the goal overshadow the positives, then that goal may not be right for you.”
Impossible or unachievable goals don’t honor who we are, adds Sandra Taylor, author of Secrets of Success: The Science and Spirit of Real Prosperity. If our goals aren’t in line with our beliefs, values, personality, and future plans, the outcomes of the goal will be negative. “Look for red flags such as anxiety or objective feedback from others that your goal isn’t realistic,” she says. “Watch for the feeling that the goal and the process don’t resonate with who you are. If you’re participating in activities for their own sake – not just with the goal in mind – then you know it’s a valuable goal.”
3 Tips for Creating a Successful Life Plan for Women – Serena Williams
1. Set goals that represent who you are. “I was just tired of losing,” says Serena Williams. “Life was passing me by.” She is incredibly successful at playing tennis because she got tired of feeling left behind. Williams chose a life goal that she was passionate about, that represented who she was. And, she not only won…she’s also happy and fulfilled. To create a successful life plan, you need to figure out who you really are as a woman.
2. Set your intentions and focus on what you want to achieve. “If you can keep playing tennis when somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that’s concentration,” says Williams. What – or who – distracts you from achieving your personal and professional goals? Find a way to deal with that obstacle…even if it’s as disruptive as a shooting down the street!
3. Let go of the past. “I decided I can’t pay a person to rewind time, so I may as well get over it,” says Serena Williams. Don’t let your past mistakes, shame, or regret stop you from creating a successful life plan! Figure out how to let go of past negativity and free yourself to set your intentions and achieve your goals. Get over it…the past is behind you.
Have you set a life plan — or intentions for your life — and are you pursuing unhealthy or healthy personal or professional goals? I welcome your thoughts or questions below…