The problem with goals

Humans naturally have trouble detaching their happiness from external goals. We are taught from a young age to set ambitious goals because then we will one day accomplish them and life will be great! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. There are a few things working against us. First, there is a huge tendency to reset your sights every time you accomplish a goal. Once you win five games, you want to win ten games. Once you’ve made one hundred thousand dollars, you want to make two hundred thousand dollars.

Other than this habit of resetting goals constantly, our intense focus on a future goal pulls us away from present happiness. We don’t think about enjoying the moment because every moment only exists as an opportunity to get closer to the goal.

The problem with this model is that there is no escape. No goal is every satisfying enough. We always want a little more, a little faster, a little bigger. So what do we do instead?

The better path is to set a goal that you can accomplish by following an enjoyable path. In other words, it’s not worth sacrificing the next five years of your life to achieve a goal. The only goals worth achieving are goals that we would enjoy working toward.

When you’re thinking about starting a new project, don’t think about the outcome. Think about the process that it would take to get there. The beautiful thing about process is that you can enjoy it every day. Don’t wait to start enjoying your process. Today is a good day to start.

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