299: Get Out of the Goal Swamp

11 Minutes Read

You may not think you have a problem with goals, but if you find yourself:

  • Feeling low on energy or motivation
  • Dreading Mondays
  • Reaching milestones but not feeling fulfilled 
  • Working on things without knowing why

Chances are you might be in what we call the Goal Swamp. This is where you're working hard but not getting anywhere you're super proud of. 

The good news is that you're not the problem (you never are, btw). The issues is in how society teaches us to think about goals.

In this episode, you will discover:

  • Why we set goals that don't fulfill us and how to change that habit
  • How to tap into your emotions to create lanterns—or goals with soul
  • Why self-awareness is the starting point for escaping the goal swamp, and how to build it 


Get the Superabound book here, launching soon!

To put the concepts in the book into practice in your own life, get the Light Your Next Lantern: Superabound Book Course here.

Listen to this week's episode on Apple Podcasts here

Listen to it on Spotify here

Watch the video here

Full Transcript

Steve Haase  0:01  
Welcome to the Superabound podcast with master coaches, Erin Aquin and Steve Haase, where entrepreneurs and leaders learn coaching tools to help you build a business you love. You are listening to Episode 299: Get Out of the Goal Swamp. Hello, everybody, you may not think you're in the goal swamp, but hear me out. If you find yourself dreading Mondays, at times, if you find yourself reaching big milestones, but not feeling fulfilled, or maybe there's some things in your life, you're not sure why you're doing them, chances are you might be in the Goal Swamp. This is a term that we thought up as we were writing our book, it's kind of early on in the flow of the material, which is coming out very soon here, actually just in a couple of weeks here in the month of July 2024. And it's a powerful metaphor for chasing dreams that aren't your own. So it's always good to re clarify and recommit to the dreams that are our own. And so this episode will help you get clear. Is it yours? Or maybe are you in the goal swamp in some way, this episode connects to the course, Light Your Next Lantern: The Superabound Book Course, which is drawn from the material from our upcoming book. And it is an amazing way to put the richness that is the book that we're so excited for that to come out into practice. In your own life, you can learn more about it at besuperabound.com/course. Thanks for checking it out. Let's dive in. We're going to talk about the goal swamp. Yuck. Not a good place. But a lot of us find ourselves there. And if you feel like what you're working on is not all that fulfilling, or that you're somehow kind of going in circles, regardless of how much you seem to be achieving. This podcast is for you. We're doing this, doing this one for you.

Erin Aquin  2:12  
So maybe we could start with just talking about where the concept of the goal swamp came from. So our new book, Superabound: live the life the universe is dreaming for you is a while we're recording this podcast, it is going to be released in a couple of weeks. And as we were writing the book, this is Steve's first book, it is my fourth book. And I was assigned, or maybe I self assigned the section on really talking about like, what the problem is. So I think any good self development or even business book should really tell you why the tools inside matter. You know, I think if we don't have a problem that we care about, why do we bother reading such a book. And one of the big issues that you and I have identified with our clients for years and just living in the world with other humans is so many people because of their upbringing, because of their culture, because of the society that they live in, tend to create goals for themselves, that are more about how others will perceive them their status in the world, then what's actually truly meaningful. I remember a few years ago, that the coach coaching community that we were both deeply a part of the big goal at the time was like everyone become a six figure coach. And then like when you did that, it was like okay, fine. Six figures, no big deal, like now become a seven figure coach. And that was like the quote unquote, goal for so many people. I know why it was important. You know, it's really amazing to make a living, doing something that you love supporting other people. And you want to make a good living on that. But I think for a lot of people, there were folks in the community who didn't really want to be full time coaches that were doing it more as a an additional practice to the work in the world that they already did. And yet so many people kind of got caught up in that flare, I actually remember one client telling me she already had a very successful business and she said, I want to be the first person in my group to make six figures as a coach. And I was like, okay, that's fine. That's a fine goal. But like, was that actually her goal was that her personal lantern, a fulfilling soulful thing she wanted for her life? That was going to somehow help her and help the World? Or was it just sort of like that was the stream that she was in? That was the river, the community that we were all in at that point? Did it actually matter to her, when she already had a lot of success was making a lot of money? I don't know. So we're going to talk about what the goal swamp is. In our book, the thread of the story is the idea of climbing a mountain at night. But what most people sort of experienced is they never even get to the starting line.

Steve Haase  5:44  
And that would be because they're hanging out in the goal swamp. I think your story of the the coach with the goal that's basically from her community, rather than from her own heart and soul is a good one. Because whether you're a coach or not, I'm sure you can relate to being so influenced by your family by, you know, your your neighbors, by your classmates, by your peers, whatever that may be, as to set your sights on something that wasn't yours, like what didn't really resonate with your heart and soul. So I think that's the first place to look to tell if you're in the goal swamp, is, when you think about this objective that you have for yourself. First of all, do you have one? A lot of people kind of wandering about in the I don't I don't have a place to go swamp right. There's kind of a, I haven't yet been audacious enough to say this is what I want. And so that would actually be the first place to begin is, do you know what you want? Have you set a a lantern out there for yourself? And if not, you can ask, Well, why not? Is it something that I'm afraid of, oftentimes, people hesitate to kind of say, this is where I want to go for fear of failing. And if you don't say you want to go somewhere, there's nothing to fail at. So that's, that's an interesting place to begin. That

Erin Aquin  7:15  
rings true for me, I actually, if you if you go to our website, I'm not sure if these blogs still exist, but they're somewhere in the vault. I actually remember writing when I was a yoga teacher, a whole takedown piece on like goals and New Year's resolutions. I was like, this is just bullshit. It's designed to make us feel bad. And I actually think that largely that is true. Because what most of us decide to pick, if we even dare to pick a lantern is something that is not ultimately connected to the Big Vision on the peak of that mountain that is just for you that the universe is calling you towards you might say. So I think the first thing that kind of propels people out of the I don't know swamp or the goal swamp power show, we're talking about it, if another small, being stuck place where you're like feeling stuck, just yeah, you're feeling stuck, is really often identifying what is it that if you look back on your life at the end of it all, what would make you proud if you could achieve it. Now, I wouldn't call those that a lantern, I would call that usually a vision. A vision is like a big time. Legacy, maybe it's something you can't even realize in this lifetime. Maybe it's something that you are creating for those who will come after you on the mountain. But usually your vision is something that feels really big. It is something that we actually are working on our sort, of course that goes along with the book to help you really articulate that vision. That could be a book on in in and of itself. But it's really first about identifying what matters in my life. So when I think about that clients I had, for sure financial success mattered to her she was like taking care of her family. She had big amazing dreams for her life and definitely revenue was going to fund some of that. But she was already doing very well. And would it have been more in line with her ultimate vision to double down on the business that she already had and maybe incorporate all of her coaching skills, add some of those things in? Did she have to start a whole new separate business and like give herself the one of the things we talk about in the book are like sort of the five pitfalls of the goal swab, and one of them is giving herself like a time based sort of competitive approach. So saying, I must be the first one in my group, it's not enough, if I just do this thing, I want to be the first person in my little community of people to do it in this way. So not only a brand new business, not only kind of figuring all of those logistics out with maybe a goal that wasn't actually hers, I don't know, maybe maybe it was, but doing it and then adding that time pressure, it's a lot. It's the opposite of what we're trying to do this summer.

Steve Haase  10:35  
Well, that's what comes to mind as I think about this is reflect on the kind of fuel that you were using, as you said, about your achievement. And so you said about the goal that you have for yourself? Is it pressure based? Is it you know, are you trying to beat somebody else trying to be the top of the top right is there some kind of looking for worth through outside achievements, that is a hallmark of the goal swamp is that you're trying to do something in order to have others see you in a more positive way. And so, oftentimes, that is the case, like as humans, we're just so driven by how we think we will be perceived, it's kind of one of those energetic currencies of life itself, right, we want to increase our status. But for a soulful business, to create something that really matters to you and aligns with your vision, you have to kind of loosen up some of those ties kind of break free from that desire to be seen in a certain way. So playing around with motivations and fuels other than pressure, or prestige, and feeling into creativity, curiosity, excitement, impact, all of those things would be a way to shift out of the goal swamp.

Erin Aquin  12:07  
You Yeah, and I mean, let's actually talk about competition and perception and, and prestige, and all those things, actually. And pressure, I mean, those things can really be helpful tools. When you are trying to learn something new. You love competition. We love games, we like to compete. Like there's that idea of learning something new, that you know, is going to be hard, sometimes a little friendly competition or in our community, one of the things we often talk about is smart accountability, when you're trying to change a pattern or a habit, sometimes having someone to tell, like what I want to I have been very consistent with working out for a number of years. But I didn't really get into that. It took me about 35 ish years to get to a place of some consistency. But being able to tell people that I did something hard, like that little goal star was really helpful and important to me. It doesn't mean that I didn't care about it, it just meant that I knew how to use my my friendship and motivation from my peers as a reminder of like, okay, I don't really want to do this. And I might not just do this for me, but I know that my friend is waiting on my text. I know she's gonna give me a high five or something. I know, it's helpful to her to know that I'm sticking with our plan. That's great fuel for some things. It's not enough though. On its own just like pressure, it's not enough to light a lantern. It's enough to change a habit often.

Steve Haase  13:55  
So I guess the another area to look is what are your habits. If you aren't happy with the general trajectory of your life, it's not about changing everything. Next week, we're gonna get into how to really make a change. But I think it's kind of tea is a preview of that it's going to be what are the things you get up to each day? And how do those how do those fill your cup? Are you in we talked about this in the book, we have the sustaining rituals. Are you sustaining yourself? Are you making continuous progress towards that lantern? Or are you more just kind of hoping and wishing, hoping things would come your way and not really taking bold action? Yeah,

Erin Aquin  14:40  
that is like a feature of the goal swamp as well as like what it feels like you're making tremendous effort to lift your foot out of the muck, only to take a step and be stuck again. But it just feels like everything you're doing is an uphill battle. And even when you achieve some Something beautiful, it doesn't really feel like exciting. Like, you know, you're not like feeling better, because you need that money, you're actually quite exhausted, maybe some of your relationships have suffered. And, you know, you don't have anyone to spend that money with anymore. We have seen that, unfortunately, so many times with people who are really exerting so much effort in the goal swamp, but not really making any actual progress that's meaningful to them. So it's a sign if you are always feeling tired, everything feels like effort. There's never a moment where you say to yourself, when you look in the mirror like, this is hard, but I'm doing something, I'm so proud of it. That's so beautiful. I love my life. If you don't wake up and think I love my life, or you don't wake up and think I'm really paving the way so that I can love my life. Chances are, you're in that goal swamp, and I don't want to be a downer. But in the Superabound book, we do walk you through sort of the primary ways that that looks ways to shift from the goal swamp and get you to that mountain of your vision so that you can actually use your energy to live the life, the universe is dreaming for you that you are dreaming for you. And we also have another support system for you.

Steve Haase  16:38  
Yeah, exactly. And so this, this conversation is really about helping you get awareness about whether you are or are not in the goal swamp in some way in your life. Many of us are in certain ways. And so this hopefully gives you some some spark of insight and inspiration for making that shift. As we set to launch the book, we are going to also be including a interactive course that goes with it called Light Your Next Lantern: The Superabound Book course. And we invite you to join us for that, you can learn more about it and sign up for the special pre launch price at besuperabound.com/course. And then once the book launches, then it will be at the regular price. And we hope to see you there it's going to be kind of a step by step in how you actually get out of the goal swamp, light your next lantern, and start to walk up that mountain of your vision. And

Erin Aquin  17:41  
I know plenty of people who listen to this podcast do not at all feel like they're in the Gulf swamp, you are on your mountain and you're thinking, yay, gay for you. I'm so happy you're on your mountain, the book, as well as the course will still help you because guess what, I don't want to spoil it for anybody. But there's still work to do. When you get on that mountain climbing a mountain is hard, doing work, even if it feels so aligned, still requires tools. And we're going to fill your backpack with the best tools that have helped countless people, our clients ourselves, build really a beautiful life and business. And so that will be available for you as well in the course. So it's for everybody. For everyone who reads this book, we want to help you apply all of the tools inside and it will really be us interacting with you. We have a community that goes along with the course so as you're working through it, you're not alone.

Steve Haase  18:51  
So we hope you can join us head over to besuperabound.com/course to learn more.