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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Moving Beyond Goals

Looking Beyond Goals

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. This was the corporate mantra by which I lived for a long time. And it’s total bullshit.

We used to measure everything at my old job. There were 29 metrics for which we were responsible every single day (even on weekends). There was morning reporting, 3pm updates, 6pm updates, and end-of-day reporting.

Suffice it to say, I was consumed by numbers. I even started thinking and dreaming in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet terms. I was acutely aware of our stats—so much so that by the fifteenth of the month I could have told you where we were going to finish without looking at a spreadsheet.

But then I realized something: It didn’t really matter. The goals were never as powerful as someone’s internal motivations.

You see, people work hard for two reasons: they are externally inspired to do so, or they are internally motivated to do so. Sometimes it’s a combination of both.

Sure, some people can be momentarily inspired by goal attainment, but that kind of inspiration is ephemeral, that kind of inspiration doesn’t last beyond the goal itself.

Conversely, intrinsic motivation—such as the desire to grow or contribute—carries on long after the goal is met. It carries on in perpetuity. External inspiration can be the trigger, but internal motivation is what fuels someone’s desire. Thus, when you discover your true motivation, you don’t need an arbitrary goal.

Goals are for the unmotivated. This is one of the reasons I got rid of my goals—so I could focus on what’s important, so I could focus on living a meaningful life, a life centered around health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. I don’t need goals to focus on these important aspects of my life, because I’m already motivated by these things. Having goals for these things would be irrelevant, I simply need to live my life in accordance with these values.

Further reading: 100 Days with No Goals