If You’re Feeling Lost at Your Job, It’s Time to Try Anti-Goals to Flip the Script

Your boss just called you into a meeting with good news: You landed the promotion you’ve been striving toward for years. Your impressive new title and salary should conjure a sense of pride and accomplishment somewhere within you. So why do you feel so uninspired? As people who’ve firmly accepted the demise of the dream job, we’re not saying our work should determine our purpose or self-worth. But shouldn’t make us miserable, burned out or insecure, either. To combat our work woes, leadership author, speaker and coach Selena Rezvani suggests re-thinking how we set career goals (because it turns out we’ve been doing it all wrong).

In a recent TikTok, Rezvani introduced the concept of “anti-goals,” or the parts of our jobs that drain and discourage us most. Allow us to elaborate.

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What Are Anti-Goals?

Anti-goals, as Rezvani explains, help us hone in on the pitfalls of our work, like a day packed with meetings for some or a solo project for others. This approach offers “clarity on the career you value most,” the expert says.

Why Should We Work on Developing Anti-Goals?

Every day, your boss stages an investigation into your to-do list, repeatedly asking what time you’ll finish a report or demanding to proofread your e-mails. And every day you’re left feeling disempowered. Setting anti-goals calls us to recognize the frustrating patterns we fall into at work, like being rushed or scrutinized by our manager. According to Rezvani, we can sometimes forget we’re in charge of designing our lives. So, if something’s off, it’s up to us to start renovating. “I find that for clients who know their anti-goals, it can be an accelerator to building their energy and confidence. Sometimes the best way to grow and learn how to thrive is to subtract!” she adds.

How Can This Method Help Us More Than Setting Traditional Career Goals

It’s time to stop blaming yourself for losing your creative fire or slipping into bouts of procrastination. Just because your co-worker shines when speaking in front of large groups, doesn’t mean it’s not panic-inducing for you. “The beauty of anti-goals is that you’re allowed to have preferences and aversions that are different from someone else’s,” says Rezvani. No two anti-goal lists are exactly alike. And understanding what drains us gives way to empathy and self-awareness. Rather than getting down on ourselves for delivering a lackluster speech, we can shift to a role that’s more writing-heavy (or better yet, one that’s entirely remote). 

How Can We Pinpoint Our Anti-Goals?

To bring our anti-goals into focus, Rezvani shares a few prompts. Paint a portrait of the most grueling day at your job. How does it look and feel? Imagine it with as much detail as possible and identify the themes behind your bad day. “Is it monotony, repetition, wearing stiff or formal clothes, loneliness, not enough solitude, or distractions?” Rezvani poses. 

You can also formulate your anti-goals on the job by listening to your inner dialogue. Rezvani says her career aversions came to light when sitting down to write her book. “I could not stand the thought of physically sitting at my desk the entire time. That initial feeling of dread helped me decide immediately I needed to explore alternatives to hours on end of sitting. Figuring out that anti-goal helped me ultimately create a treadmill desk in my basement – where I wrote pretty happily for a year.”

How Can We Fulfill Our Anti-Goals?

Speaking of brilliant solutions, Rezvani tells us for every anti-goal we come up with, to find a corresponding fix for our problem. “Use this information to actively tailor your role or as a signpost for what to avoid in future jobs.” Hate staring at the same walls for hours on end? Make it a goal to get out for a walk during your lunch break. Rezvani offers more solves to get us warmed up:

Anti-Goal: Inability to carve out time for the deep work that energizes me

Solution: Designating set days as “meeting days” and reserving others for uninterrupted work only. 

Anti-Goal: Feeling unmotivated by a dull home office set up.

Solution: Constructing a workspace that reflects your interests and boosts your energy (think: swapping your chair for a medicine ball or covering your desk with happy house plants).

Anti-Goal: Obsessively checking social media over the weekend. 

Solution: Setting app time limits or logging out of your accounts every Friday at 5p.m.

Anti-Goal: Repeating the same tasks every day in mind-numbing, soul-crushing rhythm. 

Solution: Shifting around tasks to prioritize variety, juxtaposition and contrast.

Anti-Goal: Feeling pressured to answer late-night work asks on your company’s messaging app.

Solution: Silencing notifications or establishing do not disturb hours. 

Ready to write your long list of anti-goals? Same. Number one: writing lists.

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purewow author

Senior Social Strategy & Trends Editor

From 2017-2023 Michaela Magliochetti held the role of Senior Social Strategy & Trends Editor covering wellness, horoscopes, trends and more.