293: Big Goals

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

On Friday I released an article on the basics of evaluating crypto project tokenomics. This was well received so I'll likely do more pieces like this!

Aaand on to the Medley.

Big Goals

We've rounded the sun once more, and it's time to think about our goals for 2022.

My process last year was very helpful. But I also ended up abandoning most of them. I'll do a deeper dive in the next few weeks, but I wanted to touch on one aspect of goal setting I've found really helpful: big goals.

It's tempting with goal setting to pick a reasonable target. Something you feel confident you can hit. The problem with a reasonable goal though is that if you feel confident you can hit it, then it likely won't cause you to grow very much.

Goals don't make you happy. You'll be working to hit them for days, months, years, and may not enjoy all of the journey. And once you hit them, you'll probably feel happy for a day or two and then the feeling will be gone and you'll be about as happy as you are now. Yay.  

So what's the point of setting goals then? To me the point is to give yourself an exciting challenge, where completing the challenge requires you to become a better version of yourself.

Tony Robbins puts it well in Awaken the Giant Within:

"Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it's who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment."

Goals are tools to shape who you become, and if you don't set sufficiently ambitious ones, you're unlikely to grow. And conversely, if you know you want to grow in some way, setting an audacious goal in that direction may be a good way to force the other smaller changes you want to make but that are less sexy to focus on.

One goal I set either towards the end of college or shortly after was to hit a net worth of $5m by age 30. I don't know where it came from, though I've heard the exact same goal from a few other people so we must have gotten it from somewhere.

I never tracked this goal or set any specific plan for hitting it. But thinking about it and having it in the back of my mind was extremely helpful for guiding certain decisions. For example, you don't go from 0 to $5m net worth in 7 years by taking a salary and buying index funds. And no amount of budgeting in the world will make up for an insufficiently high income. So I focused primarily on maximizing my individual earning potential and productivity and so far that's gone pretty well.

So one thing I'm thinking about with my yearly round of goal setting is: what large goals can I set that will force me to change my life in an interesting way?

Once you reach a basic level of income and comfort, I believe you need to intentionally increase the difficulty on your life to stay motivated. Setting sufficiently large goals is a great way to do that, and can make work much more interesting.

The questions highly ambitious goals force you to ask, and the tradeoffs they force you to make, might not guarantee you hit them, but they'll definitely push you further than if you had set modest ones.

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