The Process Is the Goal

It’s January 1st 2023, so I imagine everyone is making their New Years’ Resolutions. I want to talk about setting these goals and how it helps us.

Setting Goals for 2023

I recently read a blog article titled The Power of Starting Again, which talks about the invigoration of restarting the new year with a clean slate. I appreciate the sentiment of encouraging action, but I think the reasoning is off.

Specifically, I’d like us to not focus as hard on the goals themselves.

When we’re young, we’re taught to set goals so we have productive things to accomplish in life, and they even help us figure out how to get there. As we get older, it can still be useful to concretize these goals in writing, set deadlines, and even break them down into smaller goals (i.e. with methdologies such as SMART criteria).

However, as adults our personal goals are typically long term projects, and they don’t tend to change very much. They are less of a staple of everyday life and more of an overarching direction we want to head in. So it’s a rookie mistake to continue obsessing over your goals and whether or not you’ve met them.

Remember that it’s easy to say “Setting goals helped me get here” when your journey was successful, but that’s subject to survivorship bias. When things don’t go as planned and you miss your goals and lament your failures, my experience is that the result is hindrances to your motivation and productivity.

As Neil Fiore writes in the book The Now Habit, it’s often low self-image that causes procrastination and underperformance, leading to a vicious cycle. So if you don’t hit your goals, it’s important to not let that affect your self-image.

For me, the key was to change mindset away from “The goal is everything” and instead towards “The goal is a direction”. This is especially true if you’re working on a startup, by the way, because you’ll miss your goals almost all the time.

I celebrate whenever I am moving in the right direction. I am winning when I am taking steps towards my goals. Maybe I didn’t hit all of those goals (yet), but next time I try I will be closer.

Remember: The process is the goal. You’re doing fine.

Good luck in 2023.

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