Why Most Goals Don’t Work Out

If you have goals, you’re doing it wrong

So many questions swirl around in today’s self-help ideals: What are you passionate about? What things make you feel good? What things get you excited?

And we can name so many things that fall within these categories. There are so. many. dreams of ours that we think we have a passion for, that would make us feel great, that get us excited just thinking about them.

And yet so few of those dreams ever actually materialize. Why?

I’m one chapter into Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and it’s already blown my mind. We’ve been doing it all wrong.


Goal-Setting Isn’t Finding What Things Make us Feel Good

We shouldn’t align our dreams with what makes us feel good and what gets us excited; We should align our dreams with the problems we love solving. A simple difference, and yet a huge change in the directions these will take you.

Mark Manson uses the example of wanting to be rockstar to show this point: It was something he had always wanted to do, but had never really gotten around to doing. It was always a distant dream that he never actually made the time to act on…

And eventually he realized he never acted on it because it wasn’t what he really wanted in the first place.

You can tell what things you REALLY want by deciding what things you’re willing to struggle for. THAT’S how we should be deciding our careers, finding our hobbies, and choosing our loved ones.


You Will Never Live a Life That Has No Problems

We think that if we just succeed in the right aspects of life or get the right things, we’ll be happy. I mean, once we get everything we need, we’ll be happy right? You know just as well as I do that that’s just not true.

We will NEVER be completely content no matter how well we do: Every success simply sets our expectations higher, and every solved problem results in the creation of a new one, if not multiple new ones.

So we shouldn’t set our goals based on how things make us feel and what our ideal life would look like because of them. In fact, we shouldn’t really set goals at all.

What we should do instead is ask ourselves what we’re willing to struggle for. Not just what we’re willing to struggle for, but what kind of struggles we enjoy and find meaningful.


You HAVE to Fall in Love With The Struggle to Succeed

I’m not just talking about crossword puzzles or brain games on facebook: I’m talking about the kinds of problems that you could spend all day working on just to look up and realize that it’s 4AM. The kinds of problems that get your mind racing, your heart beating faster, and your attention locked in in an almost permanent haze we call “the zone”. The kinds of problems that make the rest of the world disappear for that beautiful few hours where you get to work on them, where your actions flow effortlessly in steady stream of productivity that afterwards you’re always proud of.

Those kinds of problems.

Because you will never, EVER get to a point in your life where you won’t have problems. I promise.

But if you can get to a point where you love the problems you struggle with – that’s what real happiness looks like. When you love the process of failure and success rather than just the feeling of success, that’s when you succeed. At that point, nothing can stop you.

Because when things work, you’ll be happy, and when things don’t work, you’ll be happy. It’s not even really a feeling of happiness at that point: It’s a feeling of satisfaction with who you are and what you do regardless of how things are going.

And isn’t that what we were looking for in the first place? To get to a point where we were happy no matter what?


In The End, The Struggle is Really What It’s All About

So I don’t think you should spend your time thinking about what goals make you feel good and what things would help you live your ideal lifestyle. Not only will those goals never make you truly happy in the long run, but they will likely never happen when you look at them in this way.

I think you should instead embrace the reality that everything will always have problems, and look for the kinds of problems you’ll find fulfillment in solving.

I think we all know that life has to be more than feeling good about new years resolutions that never actually happen.

I think we all know that life is about the journey, failure included. That real happiness isn’t a feeling, but rather a state of being that’s okay with the ups and downs. In fact, in love with them.

That’s what success really is. And no offense to goal setting, but that’s where I think we should be trying to go.



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