Why Goal Setting is for Losers

Why Goal Setting is for Losers

If you want to grow in your life, and want to achieve even a moderate level of success, the usual advice that is being peddled in self-help books and social media is that "you need to set goals".

From creating vision boards to achieving something, having revenue goals and life goals have become so common that almost every other person has a goal. Even in job interviews, the usual question is, where do you see yourself 5 years from now.

The problem with goal setting is that there is too much focus on the future and takes away the focus on the present and the immediate future, like the next day or the coming week.

I could set a goal for myself that I want to get to 10 million active subscribers for my newsletter, want to have $10 million in the bank, and want a Lamborghini and a fancy house. It's fun stuff.

Firstly, it would give me a false sense of being on the right path, because "only successful people set goals". But the reality is, that any loser can set such goals, even if they are highly unlikely to achieve even a small percentage of their goals.

Secondly, such goals remove the focus from the process that is needed to achieve those goals. Such goals are a side effect, usually achieved by people who focused on their craft and achieved mastery. And ironically, in most cases, those people did not focus on their craft for their goals. They focused on the craft for the sake of the craft, because they enjoyed doing it.

Another big problem with goals is that they become attached to a person's identity. If a person achieves that goal, then the person can feel good about themselves, else they are "supposed" to feel miserable until that goal state is achieved. As you move forward in life, goals change.

Who you are today and who you will be 3 years from now will be different and what you want in terms of work, relationships and leisure will change.

We develop desires in life based on what we see in the world outside. Social media would portray certain things as the ideal pathway to a happy and successful life, but that's BS in 99% of the cases.

You might see celebrities on social media and it might take a decade for you to find out that you are better off being rich and anonymous than being rich and famous.

You might see travel influencers hopping from one country to another throughout the year, only to find out that you cannot stand more than two weeks of continuous travel and all you want to do is have a routine and stay at home to focus on your work.

You might also be capable of achieving something far more than the goals you have set. The person that you become in the next 10 years, by focusing on your craft might be capable of achieving something that is 1000x more impactful for the world, than the goals that have been set today.

Do not set goals. Do not pursue anything.

Instead, focus on today. Do what you can today. Focus on your craft, and enjoy what you are doing. The goal is going to take care of itself.

When you are going for a trek in the forest, the goal is not to get out of the forest. If that was your goal, you need not have entered the forest in the first place. Your focus needs to be on enjoying the trek.

Similarly, whatever is your vocation, focus on the craft. The craft is not the path to an end goal. The craft is the goal, unto itself. The "goal" or the "end result" is a side effect of focusing on your craft. The craft is the goal.

Recently someone asked me "Deepak, how do you manage to write so much? What motivates you? Why are you working all the time?"

I really felt short of words trying to answer that question. Writing is my work, but writing is not "work" for me. I write when I can, whenever I can, where ever I can. I make sure my writing pays for me so that I can continue writing, which I love to do.

I don't write so that I can make money. I make money so that I can write. And it doesn't cost much. In fact, more money creates more problems such planning investments and managing my investments which might take my time away from writing.

For you, it could be speaking. It could be making informational YouTube videos. It might be doing art. It might be helping business owners.

The goal is not to get fixated on a goal and then find out what you need to do to achieve that goal. Because the milestone is far far away and there won't be enough fuel left in you to achieve that goal anyway. That's how most people "fail" and define "failure".

To goal is to find out what you love to do, what you are best at, and what you enjoy doing, because you will do more of what you enjoy doing, and you will continuously get better at it, and achieve mastery in that craft. Everything that comes out as a result of your craft, others will think, was your goal. We can't help it.

I cannot comprehend the concept of failure in my life. I would've failed if I come to a place where I don't have time to write. If I get so bloated with chasing mundane things in life such as luxuries and travel and all the sh*t that people post on social media - which is "supposed" to be fun and make your life better. Then I would've failed.

Even if you break my fingers, I would write with my eyes, like Stephen Hawkings. And I would write every day. Until I die. No one can stop me from that.

Focus on your craft.

That's your goal.

Everything else that you chase, will slip away from your hands, a few moments after you grab it, or almost grab it.

Good luck.

Deepak Kanakaraju