People and Untold Stories

3 Questions to Ask Before Pursuing a Goal

Are you really sure about your goal? You might have big dreams to conquer, but it’s very important to ask yourself three main questions before pursuing a goal.

We all want to succeed at whatever we take on in life. We also want to make sure the path we choose to follow is the right one, in line with our core values.

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It’s not uncommon to hear of recent university graduates who enter the workforce feeling dismayed when their careers fall short of what they had envisioned. This disappointing discovery often leads people to a dark place. No one wants to work hard just to feel disappointed. The good news is that this common scenario can be avoided through deeper self-reflection and an adjusted research process.

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It’s crucial to take action towards goals and dreams, but it’s also critical to make sure you are mentally prepared for what exactly you are signing up for. No one likes unpleasant surprises. Why not avoid as many as you can? It’s common to become fixated on the desired end result and not the process.

However, being unprepared for the journey can lead to a disappointing place. By asking yourself these three questions before pursuing a goal, you will set yourself up for success in making your dreams come true.

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  1. What’s your goal’s purpose?

The often asked question, “What’s your why?” seems like a cliché to even mention. However, it’s frequently asked because a sense of purpose is what keeps goals alive. Your goal, no matter how big or small, will require consistent effort.

The purpose of your goal will drive you to invest that effort in the moments when you don’t feel motivated. It’s easy to come up with a general purpose, but it’s difficult to look within to find a purpose that will inspire perseverance.

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Many purposes behind a goal start with, “It would be nice if…” which tends to lead to failure, since “nice to have’s” change rapidly based on emotions. It would be nice to have a million dollars. That’s something most people can agree on. You might work out a plan to make that financial goal happen for yourself, but in moments where you’re dying to take advantage of a store’s sale or want to go with friends on an extravagant cruise, the “nice to have” completely changes based on desires in the present moment.

What if your purpose for becoming a millionaire is to help your family? Are you driven to become a philanthropist to help children’s causes? Purposes that are in line with your core values give you more motivation to push through short term sacrifices. You’re much more likely to invest time and energy into researching tedious details of a potential investment if your purpose provides you with consistent motivation.

If you’re currently working on a goal and struggling to make progress, evaluating your purpose could be a good place to start. Your ‘why’ behind your goal is going to give you motivation in moments you don’t feel like taking action. Once you determine that purpose that drives you to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal, you’ll feel unstoppable.

  1. What needs to change?

New goals typically require some kind of change. Does your mentality need to change? Could your goal impact current relationships in any way? Will you need to change habits? The outcome of a goal might sound desirable, but there could be side effects of working towards a goal you might not want to sign up for.

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It’s common to hear fitness gurus refer to their programs and methods as “a lifestyle change.” That’s because regular exercise and a different way of eating often require building a completely new set of physical and mental habits.

If your goal is to pay off financial debt, spending habits will most likely need to be adjusted. Your friendships might change when you’re not available to go out to dinner as frequently. A mindset shift might be needed to practice contentment to combat shopping habits.

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A smaller goal of reading books more often could involve cutting screen time down so there’s more time and attention for reading. Can you accept seeing less social media content? Would boundaries with loved ones change if you didn’t respond to messages as quickly in your spare time?

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We have more control in life than we give ourselves credit for. It’s important to ponder if the changes we want in life are going to be worth leveling up for. The good news is only you can answer that question for yourself. Once you decide you’re ready to embrace future changes, it’s game on.

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  1. What are the downsides?

It’s inevitable that you’re going to deal with issues that you’d rather avoid. No matter what goal you go after, big or small, there’s going to be a downside. The popular author Mark Manson puts it as, “What flavor of s*** sandwich are you willing to eat?” There’s always going to be a crappy trade-off to any reward we pursue. To prepare for those challenges, it’s a beneficial strategy to anticipate what’s inevitably going to be thrown your way.

It’s worth mentioning that not all downsides are created equally. Everyone is different and can tolerate various types of stress uniquely. Some people might enjoy a fast-paced, chaotic work environment, while that sounds like an inevitable panic attack to others.

Some people can handle being exposed to blood, while others feel nauseous at the thought of any bodily function. Not too many people are motivated to stay persistent against rejection, but that’s exactly what successful people like Michael Jordan, Sarah Blakely, Walt Disney, and many other household names did to achieve success.

Once you identify the downsides and accept that they will be part of your journey, you’ll be mentally prepared to work through them. To identify those challenges, it’s important to do due diligence and research as many potential issues as you can come up with. Anticipating the setbacks before they occur will help you build mental strength to more effectively solve inevitable problems.

Once you have a goal in mind, you’re most likely feeling peak motivation levels. The last thing you’ll want to do is to take a step back and rethink something you’re ready to take action on. However, after taking the extra step to consider your goal’s purpose, required changes, and downsides, you will be more mentally prepared and primed for success. Now, go evaluate your goals!

About the Contributor

 Alissa is the writer and content creator of, a blog, and podcast exploring and testing psychological methods for building mental strength to easily push through challenges and make positive changes in life.

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