Behaviors Trump Goals

Day 241 Week 35 Q3 Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Even though I hate to use the word Trump in this age of Trump, it is the right word for the occasion. 

As I have stated many times, goal setting is overrated because the majority of people do not ever achieve their goals. Or at least they do not achieve the majority of their goals. On the other hand, focusing on behaviors is something that can yield instant gratification and instant iteration.  

Hey, I do understand the need for delayed gratification, but there are delays, and there are huge delays. And if you have gigantic goals that take a long time to accomplish, then they’re going to be gigantic delays before you get any kind of gratification.  Alternatively, we can focus on the present moment, which has not too much to do with goals and everything to do with behaviors, and make sure that we are doing the right things to lead in the directions we would like to follow.

No, it is very difficult to focus on behaviors in any meaningful way until you first derive the appropriate behaviors from the goals that you were trying to reach or, more explicitly, the identity you were trying to reach that would be consistent with achieving the goals you might set. This means there is not much point in even defining goals that are inconsistent with your identity because you are not going to achieve them without first transforming yourself.

Therefore, you need to leave some distance into the future to articulate precisely what sort of identity you want to have, and this should be in some way consistent with the types of life goals you want to achieve.

Assuming you want it to be able to swim the English Channel, you would probably have first to become an excellent swimmer. And if you would like to be a touring musician, you had better become a good enough musician to tour. Or if you want to win a Nobel prize, then you should be prepared to spend your life in science or one of the other fields that grant Nobel prizes. This type of goal is totally unreasonable, just as becoming a famous performance artist is also unreasonable unless you have already become a world-class scientist or performance artist. Then, you might be able to push for that extra level, but there are so many external variables beyond your control that it seems pointless to have those sorts of goals.

Alternatively, you could say if I want to be a writer, then I need to write every day, or if I want to be a performance artist, I need to perform as often as possible, and if I am not yet good enough to be a performance artist that I need to practice and play every day until I am good enough. You get the picture. You have to focus on the behavior, not the goals or the identity.