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May 19, 2019 11:37:43

Should we Actually Set Goals?

by @jacklyons PATRON | 449 words | 🐣 | 128πŸ’Œ

Jack Lyons

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Recently I listened to an interesting podcast with Jason Fried (co-founder of BaseCamp) on the Tim Ferriss Show. I found it particularly amusing because Jason seems to have a very lax attitude towards setting goals and envisioning the future. His beliefs and world-view go against the grain of so, so, so many ideologies around "success" and what it means to be "successful". And yet, he's the co-founder and CEO of a company possibly worth $100 billion.

So what does he do differently? Well, maybe the question should be "what doesn't he do at all that is different from everyone else?" For starters: he doesn't set goals.

Jason's (and the company's) success relies on a basic "day-to-day existence" where he simply set's out what he needs to do to improve each and every day.

This line of thinking, says Fried, is incompatible with long term goals. Setting expectations, revenue targets and growth numbers aren't the philosophy of the company. In the majority of situations, whether in business or in life, any projection one set's out is technically "just a guess". It may be based on past metrics and performance, but all this stuff is just "man-made". In his words:

"A goal is something that goes away when you hit it. Once you’ve reached it, it’s gone. You could always set another one, but I just don’t function in steps like that."

This kind of world-view is pretty hard to digest but it does make sense. Goals can be intimidating and upsetting if they are not reached. Conversely, they might mean nothing to you six months down the line. We all change over time. Therefore, how can you be sure that your future self actually wants the goal you've set out to reach?

To reduce the noise, all he asks of himself and those at his company is to "do the best you can each and every day." No KPI's, no revenue growth targets, no goals. Just be consistent and do the work as best you can. Every six weeks or so, he likes to take a break and reflect. Then he can pick and choose where to course correct and move forward.


Like writing 200 words a day, my goal isn't to reach a goal but to be consistent and practice a daily habit. Over time my writing will (hopefully) improve along with my vocabulary, communication and creativity. But there's no goal to be anything. Just to do the best I can, each and every day.

I'm not sure this will resonate with many people, but I'd love to hear your thoughts either way. Do you think goals are a good idea or is it better to be consistent over time?

  • 1

    @jacklyons - regarding goals. A goal is you writing down something you say you want. " A new car." -- But, do we have to write down things we really want? I think Jason uses a compass modality. Does each movement, made to the best of his ability feel right? If not, how could he adjust course a little -- while maintaining that strong sense of connection to what feels right.

    I didn't know if you meant to write $100 billion -- :-)

    Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | May 19, 2019 10:47:35
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