THE ONE-SIDED VIEW
Our view of life is one-sided. We see things from one end. The end that favors us. We will see the glass as half full or half empty but very few people will see both.
We have forever acknowledged the benefits of setting goals but we never contemplate its dark side.
WHY GOALS ARE OVERRATED
Goals may win soccer matches but not life pursuits. People are so obsessed with goals that they spend a lot of time setting them. We have this illusion that giant goals lead to giant results.
We think that the only way we can get better results is by setting new goals. And just like that our lives have remained unchanged even though we have constantly set new goals.
In the words of Mark Manson, “Goals are overrated. You do not know if a goal is achievable. You don’t know if a goal is even desirable. The value in having goals is that they trick you into taking action.”
Goals excite our minds. They motivate us when we think about them. The clear image of a great result in our minds is tantalizing. Just imagine having that flat tummy or that muscular body.
Habits are the real deal. They are boring. They ask for delayed gratification, consistency, and commitment. They come with their terms and conditions. You want to be healthy but the thought of not eating junk, sugar, or taking alcohol for the rest of your life is frustrating. It bullies your mind. It is scary!
THE PARADOX OF GOAL SETTING
The more you target success, the more you will miss it. You become so focused on the goal, that you miss the process. The process is what matters.
You become so focused on the score that you spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard. This is where goals can be mistaken for action.
ARE GOALS IMPORTANT?
We cannot downplay the importance of having goals. Goals are super important
They Give Direction in Life. They help us fixate our focus on something important- something that we care about in life. When you want to spend more time with your family because you value relationships, you set a goal to spend weekends at home with your loved ones.
Goals are Calls to Action. They help you move towards the direction you want in life. If you want to lose weight or get yourself out of debt, the goal itself will steer you in that direction.
THE DARKSIDE OF GOAL SETTING
NOT ALL GOALS ARE ACHIEVABLE
We think that once we have our minds fixated on something, we should not relent until we achieve it. We end up stretching ourselves too much that goals end up breaking us.
Goals impose another close challenge. We cannot know that a certain goal is out of reach. Not many people can withdraw from their pursuits. We enter into the goals-chasing race thinking of nothing else but victory. This prejudice harms us more than the failure to achieve the goal itself.
The Consistency Principle
When you have put in a lot of effort and money towards a certain pursuit, the consistency principle makes you think that it will work out and that once you put in just a little more, you will achieve what you are after.
The Deprival Super Reaction Syndrome
This is where you think that you are going to lose the whole thing if you do not put in a little more
GOALS LEAD TO UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR
People with goals are more likely to cheat or take part in unethical means than people without goals.
Goals can be deceiving where we end up using any means to get to our intended result. Like starving yourself to lose weight or cheating to achieve your set targets in a test.
GOALS RESTRICT YOUR HAPPINESS
We all have this illusion, “Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be happy.” This will make you put happiness away until you make that achievement.
GOALS LEAD TO FRUSTRATIONS, DESPERATION, AND MISERY
The inherent sacrifice that comes with goal setting is that we have chosen to be happy once we achieve the goal and miserable if we do not achieve it.
We tend to be overconfident that we will achieve our goals. We put in a lot of effort and think that just because we have put in all we have, we must succeed. Putting in a lot of effort only increases your chances of success. It’s like thinking that just because you put in a lot of money in an investment, it cannot fail.
WHY GOALS DON’T MATTER THAT MUCH
YOU CAN STILL SUCCEED WITHOUT GOALS
Can you succeed without goals in life? Let’s say you are a student and you have never set a goal to be top of your class but you take your studies seriously. You use the best studying habits, do your assignments, revise for your exams well enough and consult your teachers. Would you not make it to the top of your class just because you had not set that goal? I bet you would.
WINNERS AND LOSERS HAVE THE SAME GOALS
We blindly assume that ambitious goals lead to success forgetting all the people who had set the same goal but did not achieve it.
Every artist wants to win a Grammy, every actor wants to win an Oscar, every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Successful and unsuccessful people have the same goals, therefore, the goal cannot be what separates winners from losers.
A reactive life will keep you too occupied to see the true nature of your chases. If you pause and reflect, you will realize that you are chasing after mirages- things that do not exist.
Sometimes the things we are after in life will only make our lives miserable once we achieve them. we are chasing after the wrong things or things that other people are after or have already achieved.
Most goals are borrowed. Borrowed from friends and family. Borrowed from coworkers, peers, and society.
MOVING BEYOND GOAL SETTING
SYSTEMS MATTER MORE THAN GOALS
I love the words of James Clear, “You do not rise to the level of your goals you fall to the level of your systems.”
As Scott Adams put it, goals are about the results you want to achieve while systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
If you genuinely care about the goal, you will care about the system too.
Goals give direction, systems deliver results. Goals won’t change your life, habits will. New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do. And a lifestyle is a process, not an outcome.
If you want to get out of debt, your goal won’t help you achieve that. It’s the systems you put in place. It’s the habits you create. Like spending less than you earn, and paying off a certain percentage every month.
Those who want to achieve something badly enough set great systems that lead to their massive success. The best team sets systems to be unbeatable by signing a top coach, signing good players, training hard and so on.
REALIZE THAT NOT ALL GOALS ARE ACHIEVABLE
In the words of Charlie Munger, “Part of what you must learn is how to handle mistakes and new facts that change the odds. Life in part is like a poker game wherein you have to quit sometimes when holding a much-loved hand.”
We never know what is going to make us happy in the future, so strict adherence to personal goals can sometimes backfire. It’s for this reason that goals should be easily altered.
It’s not easy to stop, rethink and realize that it’s better to write that goal off and live to fight again.
You do not have to pursue your goals like obsessions. They will break you.
Goals should inspire you not consume you.
Learn to detach yourself from your goals. To see your goals not only as something you can achieve but also something that you can fail to achieve.
Look at your goals from both sides!
PRIORITIZE DYNAMIC GOALS OVER STATIC GOALS
Most of the goals we set are reflections of the inflated images of ourselves. We set goals to be a renowned author or a wealthy entrepreneur or having a mansion or a Porsche
This is the ego in its concealed form.
These are examples of static goals- where you desire an enlarged image or vision of yourself having this or that.
You want to make sure that your goals are dynamic. Dynamic goals point towards an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other people.
Rather than imagining yourself as a famous author or a movie star, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches not only your life but that of countless others too.
Dynamic goals will inspire you, static goals will consume you!
DECIDE TO BE HAPPY REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS OR NOT
School has taught us that failure is bad. No one wants to fail in life anyway. However, failure has nurtured world-beaters.
As artificial intelligence researcher, Eliezer Yudkowsky put it, “If you have never failed, you’re only trying things that are too easy and playing far below your level. If you can’t remember any time in the last six months when you failed, you aren’t trying to do difficult enough things.”
Your happiness should not be dictated by the achievement of the goals you set. Surprisingly, you will end up happy that you failed to achieve some of your goals in life.
Life is about the shots you take, not the shots you miss! Keep shooting!