Are You Chasing The Wrong Goal?

What can you do when you discover you've set the wrong goal? As we're approaching a new year, most of us will be focused on setting one or more new goals. Before we become focused on holiday preparation, now is the ideal time for us to get our planner, calendar, or journal so we can write our goal(s) and strategize on how to achieve them.

Some may be fearful about creating goals in the midst of uncertainty.  I remember long ago hearing the conditional commitment to do something, "God willing and the creek don't rise."

We need to remember that we don't serve a God of uncertainty. Rather the world's perspective is one of uncertainty. Scripture tells us to speak with certainty. "Let your yes be yes and your no, no." (Matthew 5:37)

This is because our God is the same, yesterday, today and forever and we are to be a reflection of Him. Similarly, His plan and calling for our lives is irrevocable. In other words, our God who knows everything, sees the beginning from the end, says, "I have not and will not change my mind."

Romans 11:29 promises, "for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

The question many of us fail to ask at the beginning is whether we are actually chasing the right goals. Many end up chasing the wrong goal and only realize it when they are midway into the process.

In this article, I'll show you how to identify whether you are chasing the right or wrong goal and if necessary how to course correct. I will also share how you can learn to help others set the right goals in their lives.

Chasing the wrong goal can cost you countless time and energy when you could have succeeded in short order by setting the right goal to start with. Normally, there are signs that let us know we could be chasing the wrong goal, and they give us a chance to correct our course before it is too late.

Goals help you fulfill your God-given purpose

Setting the right goals starts with knowing your God-given purpose and fulfilling it under God’s guidance. Goals will help you remain focused when working toward your purpose so that you don’t go in circles with no clear direction. God prepared work for us to do before we were born, and He directs our steps as we do it.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10

Many people believe that it’s wrong to set goals because they feel that it shows a lack of trust in God. Yet God expects us to have plans for the things we want to do in life. The thing to remember is that we are to set goals guided by God so that they will be the right ones. God gives us direction, and as long as we follow Him, we will never end up with the wrong goals.

3 Signs that you could be chasing the wrong goal

(1)  You are unhappy pursuing your goal.

Let me first state that you can pursue the right goal and still experience some unhappiness. However, when you are constantly unhappy when pursuing your goal and you lack the satisfaction it is meant to bring, then you are chasing the wrong goal. Chasing the wrong goal brings with it feelings of emptiness, fatigue, anxiety, overwhelm, burnout, and an absence of joy that comes with working to achieve it.

When you begin to feel like you are suffering from chronic unhappiness because of your chosen goal, it is time to stop, realign your priorities or change your strategy. Most of the time when chasing the wrong goal, you will be doing it in your strength and will not experience the grace of God that is meant to help you along the way. The goals you set need to be aligned with who you are and what God has called you to do. This will significantly increase your chances of achieving the goal you have chosen.

(2)  Your goal is not aligned with who you are.

Each of us has a unique identity given to us by God and this means that we are to set goals aligned with who we are. Chasing particular goals because others are doing so increases our chances of ending up on the wrong path in life.

An example of someone who was chasing a goal that was not aligned with her unique identity was designer, Vera Wang. She trained extensively to become a figure skater with the hopes of winning a medal during the Olympics, but this proved to be beyond her ability and motivation. Eventually Vera realized that her passion was in creativity and went on to become the editor of Vogue before becoming a famed wedding dress designer. By chasing a goal related to her love of creativity, she was able to achieve it.

Sometimes it’s not enough to look for a smarter way to achieve your goal, but to go back and revisit your intention behind the goal you set. You may find that the motive of achieving your goal was driven by external factors as opposed to what you really desire from the bottom of your heart.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Quote attributed to Albert Einstein

(3)  You are sticking with the goal because of fear.

When you stay with a goal because you don’t know what else to do, you are acting out of fear and chasing the wrong goal. The world has taught us that we must have goals we are pursuing all the time, and people end up looking for any goal, regardless of whether it inspires them to action or not.

Many people fear letting go of the wrong goal because they don’t know what other options they have. Others are afraid because they are paralyzed by the fear of uncertainty. These are the wrong reasons for holding on to goals that you should have let go of a long time ago.

Instead of chasing the wrong goal because of fear, first identify the direction your life is taking and then set goals that will take you there. Having a vision for your life will help you focus your goals toward an expected end.

God tells us that His people perish because of lack of knowledge. Our solution is to look for the information we need that will help us set the right goals in life.

I include discerning how God has pre-wired you for your vision and mission in the personal coaching section of our Christian Life Coach training and certification.  As you discover more about God’s plan for your life, many things become much clearer. This will increase your confidence in going after a goal that is right in line with God’s plan.

How to set goals the right way

There is no single formula to how you can set goals in your life. People have discovered many approaches to goal setting and you can find one that works for you. Begin by identifying the big picture of your life and then breaking it down into smaller and more manageable goals.

This approach will keep you focused on what you are working toward achieving and so that if you begin to veer off, you can quickly get back on track. Others prefer to set goals at the beginning of the year to achieve the prophetic word God has given them.

Goal setting in reverse? 

I prefer to work backwards when setting goals, to ensure greater life satisfaction. Let me explain.

I begin with the end in mind. I closely inspect what the end could look like.  I review the time energy and resources needed. This is what scripture refers to by “counting the cost” of a plan.

Sometimes we have a seemingly great goal only to realize that the cost of achieving it is too high. An example of this could be a promotion to a high-paying new position that would require you to travel extensively, making it virtually impossible to properly maintain your marriage relationship or parent your children. Always pray and ask God whether an opportunity is the right one for you.

There are different aspects of your life you should consider when setting your goals. These aspects include spiritual, family, health, social, physical and required resources. Taking each area into account will help you be successful in achieving your goals.

Once you identify your goal, large or small, and it aligns with God’s will, plan your process to achieve it. This will require dividing the goal into manageable tasks, prioritizing, and working step by step to achieve it.

Remember to keep in mind that God created you a unique individual with a distinct path in life. This means that your goals will be aligned with your purpose and who you are.

You might also want to set goals for various areas of your life. For example, in the area of spirituality, you can set goals that help you create a more intimate relationship with God. In the area of your career, you can set goals that help you complete the assignments that God has given you.

Discover an incredibly fulfilling career and experience personal life transformation. Find your course HERE

God has given us His Word to guide us as we set goals and achieve the desires He has put in our hearts. By giving Him first place in our lives, we can be certain we’ll end up chasing the right goals.


If you get to a point where you realize that you need to let go of a goal or adjust it, don’t feel discouraged. Take the necessary action to correct your plan. Going after the wrong goal does not have to keep you stuck or make you feel like a failure. Instead, congratulate yourself for finding the issue. Make the changes you need to and keep moving forward.

There are many people around the world who had to change goals midway because they realized they were chasing the wrong goal. That realization is the first step toward a journey of a successful life. Do not be afraid to try again because in the end it will all work out for your good.  

Every day is another opportunity for a do-over.

Want to learn more about goal setting? 

This Academy’s Christian Life Coach training and certification course is the first of its kind. Your new skills will qualify you to work with individuals, private businesses, non-profit organizations, or churches and ministries confidently. What’s more you can develop a specialty or niche in working with clients who need help with setting the right goals.  Click HERE for course details. You'll find the enrollment button and tuition options near the bottom of that page.

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© 2020 Leelo Bush, PhD, All rights reserved.

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