Do you really need goals?

I’ve been making a hard turn on goals recently.

I was listening to an episode of Ground Up – Matt D’avella’s podcast. He had James Clear on it, the guy the wrote Atomic Habits.

It’s a good book. But you probably already know that because everyone’s been talking about it for a year now. (It’s also a good podcast)

Anyway, Clear has some quote that I will now butcher. It’s something like “you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

As a pretty system based guy, this really resonates. He continues to make an argument that I’ve often kicked around in my own brain. It’s this idea that everyone has pretty much the same goal.

So what do I mean by that? Well, everyone’s goal is to be successful at what they’re doing.

Everyone who applies for a job has the goal of getting the job. Everyone who plays on a team has the goal of winning the big game. People’s goal in the gym is to get fit, right?

Yet even though we all have the same goal, only a small fraction of us achieve it. Only one person gets the job. Only one team wins the championship.

Now Clear hedges this idea by saying that goals can be helpful in orienting us. Sure.

But it got me thinking. What would be the implications of having NO GOALS!

What if we relied solely on our systems of habit and tracking, and completely divorced ourselves from the end product of our goals?

What if we endeavored solely from the perspective of process?

What would happen?!

Well, I don’t know! But I’m going to find out.

From now on out, I will set no goals. I will simply point the ship towards a series of activities and see what happens. I will rely 100% on my system of work with no impetus placed on outcomes.

My guess is that this will go one of two ways.

  1. I’ll see almost no difference and continue to make steady pace towards a series of outcomes.
  2. It will collapse into a series of failed activities.

My guess is as good as yours. But hey, let’s see what happens!

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