Why Goals are a Total Bullshit and Habits ARE the Key to Total Life Success.
Maybe it’s time to stop chasing 6-pack and instead eat right and exercise DAILY???
At the end of 2015 I already decided that this year is going to be GOALS-FREE year.
Why? After being on this planet for 28 years (not so long, I know, but still enough time to learn some important lessons and successful strategies to live a happy fulfilled life), I finally realized that goals, even the best ones, SMART goals, specific, with important whys, measurable, with a deadline, emotionally charged, realistic, planned — they don’t work most of the time. They just don’t. No matter how inspiring and “realistic” they are.
Why goals don’t really work and never will in real life?
- We don’t really know what actually WILL make us happy. And that is the point of most goals right? To make us happier, to make our life more exciting and enjoyable to live. So what happens if the goal turns out to be not the one that makes happy? Means all the efforts, energy and time we put into it is a waste. What if reaching the goal makes us feel miserable and stressed-out, make us compromise who we are or what we believe in, or make us compromise our true happiness in the present? We live now. Not in the future, when we reach our goal. Future is not guaranteed. Ever. We are not even promised the next moment, leave alone some imagined date in the future, when we are supposedly reached the goal. We can be happy only now. So if the goal makes us sacrifice our true happiness in the now it’s a stupid goal. No matter how inspiring, aspiring and audacious that goal is.
- We set the goals but 99.99999…% of all goals are not up to us entirely. There is environment that we interact with — the world material and not, people around us, our own changing feelings, thoughts, values and desires. The environment, we’d like to think we can control, but in reality we don’t. The world unfolds in front of us following its own rules and laws, that we do NOT know exactly. We can make choices in the environment we live in, we can choose what feeling waves to ride, we can choose our responses to what world has to offer — we have a lot of freedom in our choices, but we do NOT have the power over what comes into our life, we can only choose what we do with that. So if we don’t control our constantly changing environment, how can we control the deadlines and manifestation of our goals/desires and plan implementation? We can’t. Or we start pushing and struggling and that is FAR from being happy. No goal is worthy of NOW-struggle and sacrificing our happiness in the moment for not-promised and not-guaranteed future.
- Goals are not sustainable and not worth having unless they are built in our daily life as habits, making it easy to keep the goals in our life effortlessly, reaping more and more benefits as we go. Goals are not worth having, if on the way to reaching them, we don’t plan to change our lifestyle acquiring new habits to support our results and reached goals.
- Why would we want to invest lots of efforts, energy, time into something, that we will lose soon after getting it?
- Why would we try to make a, let’s say million dollars, if we don’t plan to learn how to make money in a smart sustainable happy way we enjoy, and if we don’t plan to learn how to create a lifestyle that multiplies our wealth instead of shrinking it, making us worry about having enough and not losing acquired wealth?
- Why would we try to lose weight if we don’t plan seriously to make it a permanent change? Why waste time for that short moment, when we look and feel (hopefully) our best after getting in better shape just to gain it all back, waste all our hard work, end up emotionally and very often physically exhausted in a worse shape than when we started?
Goals are not worth having and chasing.
New habits are. New habits that improve our life constantly are worth acquiring and keeping, and working on.
Goals and results are by-products.
That’s why I personally decided to live life choosing at any moment my destination, deciding where I’m going, what I’m improving and working on daily and having a vague, yes, you heard me right, vague goals adjusting them as I go to suit my life, happiness, fulfillment.
I commit daily to my habits, to what James Altucher calls daily practice, taking care of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and working on 1% daily improvements.
I don’t have any goals anymore. And I never felt more successful or happy in my entire life. DAILY!
My happiness and satisfaction is NOT in the future. It’s today. It’s now. It’s here.
Mark’s article explains, why it does make much more sense to concentrate on building habits instead of chasing goals, comparing our goal setting VS habit building behavior to 2 mindsets, one that makes people rich (investing mindset) and one that makes people always trying to get rich never really getting there (spending mindset). It explains, why exactly it is so important to concentrate on building habits and how best to do that, AND it gives us 6 habits that are not only worthy to have themselves, but that also produce positive changes in other areas of our life without us doing more work, AND they benefit us more and more the longer we have them, helping us to improve our lives exponentially.
- That’s because it’s better to invest your limited focus and energy on building habits rather than specific goals.
- Goals are a one-time bargain. They are the spending mindset. “I will spend X amount of energy to receive Y reward.” Habits are an investing mindset. Habits require one to invest one’s efforts for a little while and then take the rewards of that effort and re-invest them in a greater effort to form even better habits.
- But here’s the kicker. Some habits are better than others habits because some habits, once acquired, make other positive habits much easier to acquire as well.
- These are sometimes referred to as “keystone habits.” They are habits that, once adopted, will reverberate into other areas of your life, which makes acquiring other desirable habits more natural and require less effort.
- I like to think of keystone habits as “compounding habits” because, much like compounding returns on an investment, over a long enough period of time, they can increase the richness of your life exponentially. Goals, by themselves, generate linear growth and change. Habits are capable of generating exponential growth and change.
- Setting a goal like, “I want to lose 20 lbs for my wedding” or “I want to get a promotion this year,” and then forcing yourself to just do a bunch of shit until it happens is akin to saying, “I want a million dollars,” and then deciding to work 120 hour work weeks until you get there. It is almost certainly going to make you miserable and burn you out. And even if you do get there, like a person who wins the lottery and immediately spends it all, you’re guaranteed to lose it soon after.
- A good friend of mine is really into bodybuilding and, as you can imagine, is ripping out of his muscles. One thing he told me last year that struck me was that one of the best things he did was deciding to just exercise every day, no matter what. Obviously, he’d prefer to hit the gym and get a big, structured workout in. But on days where he wasn’t feeling well, or when he was traveling for work, he still made a point to get some basic exercise in. Even if it was just push-ups on the floor or a quick jog up a flight of stairs a dozen times. The goal here is to just always show up. Worry about perfection later.
- You wouldn’t keep watching a TV show you don’t like. You wouldn’t eat an entire plate of food you don’t like. So why the hell are you trying to read a book you don’t like? (Advice to myself: if what I read is NOT a hell-yeah-i-cant-wait-to-finish — stop reading it.)
The thing that made the most impact on me was a realization that habits are much better to invest my time and energy into because I AM in fact in total control of my habits, whereas goals and results are not really up to me, AND I never now anyway what result will be the best for me in any particular situation, what will make me feel the happiest and most successful me.
So hey. New Year has just started. It’s this goal setting/resolution making time. Do it in a smart way this time, ok? Quit the goals an invest into habits instead, deciding what will you work on daily this year.
I am somehow sure that you’ll end up happier and more satisfied NOT ONLY with the results, but also with your daily life. With NOW and HERE — the only place we can be truly happy in. (Intended as advice to myself more than anything, but hopefully will help you too).