F*ck Goals? How Goals, Habits and Intentions work together

My 2050 podcast is all about life purpose and goals for the year 2050.

F*ck Goals

Now Aubrey Marcus is shouting out: “F*ck Goals”, go for intentions and James Clear focused in his recently published book Atomic Habits on – you guessed it – habits. He advocatses “Forget About Setting Goals”.

This blog post explains why I think that goals, intentions and habits are NOT contradictory, but form a synergy that helps you achieve and become.

On January 1st Aubrey Marcus sent out this email:

Aubrey Marcus’ Newsletter saying “F*ck Goals”

“I’m a little hungover and feeling feisty. So I’ll say it again. Fuck goals. Why? Because a goal sets you up with a proposition of success or failure based upon a specific outcome. And guess what? You’re not in control of the outcome. You are only responsible for your effort in the process of attaining your goal. So instead of goals, I set intentions. It’s similar, but a little different.”

Aubrey Marcus, Newsletter Jan 2, 2019

That made me think of James Clear’s book Atomic Habits that I read in 2018.

“The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

So apparently two very respected authors are against goals? Now here is someone who has different take on goals:

Ryan Allis. Ryan inspired me to start the 2050 podcast. One of the exercises he recommends is to make yourself a plan with goals for the next: 90 days, 1 year, 10 years, lifetime and for the year 2050. Ryan argues that the most successful people he knows write down goals and hang them on their wall.

In my experience those who write down & frame their goals are the most effective human beings at creating a better world

Ryan Allis, Lessons from my 20s

So who is right? Aubrey, James or Ryan?

All of them! But first let me explain why everyone thinks that his or her method, belief and strategy is the one and only truth.

First: The internet is a giant confirmation bias engine. You can find people on the internet that agree with you on everything.

So whether you believe in habits, intentions, goals or you think the earth is flat (!), you will find hundreds of thousands if not millions of people who agree with you on the internet.

The Internet – A giant confirmation bias engine

Second: Survivorship bias. Which means we only hear the stories from people who survived or who rose to the top.

What if Aubrey Marcus became super successful by not using goals but just intentions, yet another entrepreneur failed miserably and became homeless because he focused on intentions and had no goals.

Well, Aubrey Marcus has millions of views on YouTube where he shares his belief in intentions and writes “F*ck Goals” newsletters. I’m not sure how many people follow that homeless guy and trust his words. This is an extreme example, but you get the point.

We trust the stories from a selected group of people and easily blend out all the other people who failed with the same method or belief.

So having said that, I think goals, intentions and habits together can form a powerful synergy that helps you to be more happy, become the best version of yourself, change yourself and thereby the world.

Goals

I think you need a big vision and big goals. Something that inspires you to get up every day at 5 am.

Steven Kotler said in one of my podcast episodes:

One of the most practical things you can do to increase the amount of Flow in your life, is to write a mission statement for your life.

Steven Kotler, 2050 Podcast

Goals translate into Habits

You need a goal to know which habits you want to implement. For example: My goal is to be in the best shape of my life in the year 2050.

For me that means I want to work out, eat healthy, learn new movements, learn a martial art, do yoga and meditate. Let me break it down a bit to be more precise.

Goals, Habits & Intention in Synergy

My 90-day goal is to go to CrossFit twice a week.
Even just to start with CrossFit, I want to be a bit stronger and get to some basic level of fitness.

So 80 days ago I started to do a calisthenics workout every morning for 15 minutes.

So my current habit is to work out every morning for 15 minutes.

And my intention is to become as strong as my genetic potential allows me to.

You see: The first one is a goal with a date = “Going to CrossFit twice a week by March 31”

The second one is a current habit = “Working out every morning for 15 minutes”

My goal and my habit come from my intention “to be of service and to be fit as f*ck”.

Internal Goals vs. External Goals

One thing I want to add before ending this article: There are goals inside and outside your direct control. Some people like to focus on the things they can directly control (their mind, their actions, e.g. “Going to CrossFit twice a week”) but not on what they can’t directly control (“Achieving 14% bodyfat and 90 kg bodyweight”). Personally I find both of those interesting and feel that those also work together. But that is another blog post by itself.

So this is how goals, habits and intentions work for me together in a synergy.

Be inspired by your goal.
Be aware of your habit.
Be mindful about your intention.

Peace!

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