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Goals are Overrated, Focus on Actions Instead


“The only thing in your control is effort. That’s all, and that’s everything.” -- Mark Cuban

I think we got it wrong. All that goal-setting in self-help is misleading us. Jim Rohn, and Brian Tracy the masters of personal development have spoken about goals(Brian even wrote a book about it), and we thought, this is it, this is what we need to succeed. There is even the idea, that writing down the goals, is going to help you achieve them. We thought, we have the secret to success, and yet, nothing happened, no success follows, at least not for me.

In fact, I have more success before than now, I was doing good in school(I got into a good university), and then, I achieved reasonable fluency in English, which is rare in China. However, when I get into the real world, I had little success. And it is exactly at that time, I learn about all that self-help, personal development, and goal-setting stuff.

I was definitely not doing good, by any standards, I was not making much money(only enough to cover basic expenses), and I didn't get married. I am 32 now, almost 10 years after I leave university, and I have no savings and no marriage which is a big failure by Chinese standards.

My point is, goal setting didn't help me. I tried to set goals, for example, fitness goals, business goals, and relationship goals, but nothing happened. In fact, I was doing better in the good old days when I never set goals, that is, before I leave university, I was reasonably doing well.

I will give you an example, an infant, who never set goals and go about and learn their mother language, as fast if not faster than any adult trying to learn the same language as a second language. The adult perhaps has goals set about reaching fluency. But more often than not, after 5 years, the infant will achieve a reasonable ability to speak in the language, but the adult will not.

Adults have all the advantages, they have a bigger brain, more memory, and better ability to understand things, but they often fail to learn the same language faster. The difference is not the infant set goals to reach fluency, of course, it is the sheer effort that the infant put in, without knowing, of course. The infant probably spent 12 hours a day immersed in the language, trying to understand what other people are talking about, and maybe throw in his or her two cents here and there. And that, right there, is the secret to their success.

It makes sense, you know, it is not about your intentions or goals, but the actions that get you the results. It is only logical. How come, that we never thought about it, isn't it obvious?

It is indeed obvious!

Many people who are thin never set a goal to lose weight, they were never fat, so it never occurred to them to have a goal, and yet they have a good body weight. It makes sense, you don't have to set a goal to be thin in order to be thin. Just do what thin people do, eat less(or more healthy), and exercise more!

We really thought, misguided by self-help gurus and some business celebrities, if only we set a goal and wrote it down, and review it every day, we will achieve success. It is not true at all.

The only thing that matters is your actions, not your goals. But you say, but we need a goal to have a direction. That is not necessarily true. If you exercise, do you really need a direction, isn't becoming fit your direction, obviously, it's not like, you have to think about it to know it, it is obvious.

Now that, we know, what matters is our actions. And we also know that we have 16 hours a day to do various things. It makes sense, that if we want a great life, success, relationship, and health, it is very important that we take every minute of the day seriously (hopefully) and make the most out of them. And I believe, if you only make good use of your time, your life will be great.

There you go. There is no confusion from now on. There is no magic, no secret. Just a simple and straightforward way, to succeed or whatever it is that you want.

Good luck, and have fun!😄