Many people have asked us to create another New Years post, but there is no reason to do so. New Years resolutions are likely the cause of depression across the United States (no there is no way to scientifically prove it, only basing this on experience). Unlike regular people, we don’t make resolutions, we don’t make goals and we don’t even have a system (although many people have recommended we start a system). We simply spend our time becoming more efficient. With that said, here are several reasons why goals cause depression and why you should eliminate them in general.
How Goals Lead to Depression
Goal Oriented People are Type A and Boring: Make no mistake, we used to create a lot of goals. Every single educational institution will tell you to create goals and “stick to them”. The problem is that this will make you miserable for the foreseeable future as you’ll only focus on that “one goal”… for about three weeks… since you made it a recent resolution. Sure doing an activity to achieve that goal near-term is healthy, however, you’ll find yourself thinking about it incessantly and talking about it as well. (Hint: no one cares about your goals they only care about themselves!)
Therefore, when you’re creating your first new goal, you’re going to be laser focused on it and talk to people about it who won’t have any interest in you achieving the goal. In fact, they won’t even believe you will achieve it because every single person you meet will believe they are better than you. This means your goal must be reasonable in “their world view” otherwise they will shut you down. Why? Well if they can’t do it certainly you can’t! Congrats. Since your goal *seems* to live on another planet from most people you speak with, you’ll be labeled as “boring” or “crazy” as well.
Goals Don’t Lead to Happiness: If your goal is to become a millionaire we can tell you that the day your net worth turns from $999,999 to $1,000,000 won’t make a difference. You will not get some sort of bump in happiness because if you were at $900,000 or something like that, you’ll feel that you’re practically there already. In addition, nothing changes. If you were in shape and a millionaire then you’re a fit millionaire. If you were overweight and out of shape, then you’re the same person with a heavier wallet than before.
Looking beyond that basic piece, you will even suffer from some sort of apathy after achieving your goal. You worked for months or years to get to where you are now and yet you feel exactly the same as you did before (perhaps the actual day was great but certainly not a month after). Now you have to reset some sort of new benchmark which is just a restriction on *potentially blowing past it* if you didn’t have that mental hurdle in the first place! If you wanted a million bucks but changed it to “as much as possible” you’re probably going to think bigger and less restricted (sticking with basic money examples).
Goals Create Frustration: Many goals start off with big gains at first and then fall off as the gains become less linear. All improvement is non-linear (lots of nothing before a big gap up). If you’re going from $0 to $1,500 the speed can certainly be linear. But. As we work up to higher numbers you’ll find that *event* driven income will drive your net worth once you’re in the seven figure territory.
Expecting that your improvement is going to be linear (for practically anything) makes it mentally more difficult to keep going. So not only are you focusing several hours a day to achieve that goal, you’re also using your will power muscles (yes will power is a muscle) just to keep going. If you didn’t have the goal in the first place and simply allocated a specific amount of time to becoming “more efficient” at that category, you’d never have to use your valuable will power muscles in the first place!
Any Goal Worth Having Isn’t Worth Sharing: If you tell someone your goal and they think its achievable (vast majority agree – see regular people) your goal is too small anyway and shouldn’t be talked about. If your goal is unachievable to 99% of people (vast majority disagree), then you shouldn’t bother telling anyone because they will think you’re crazy or boring. Funny how that works, huh?
If you have a real problem you want to solve, you should allocate time to it and let your effort drive the process forward. We don’t know of a single “goal” that doesn’t require time on your part. Even if your goal is to work less and make more, then you’re going to have to sit down and solve that problem by outsourcing tasks and free up time for something else. The planning itself takes time as well.
The crux of the problem is simple. If you want to get better at something you shouldn’t need to tell anyone… it should be a lifelong commitment otherwise you didn’t want it anyway.
If You Miss a Big Goal You’ll Be an Even Bigger Mess: We all know those guys back in school who thought they were going to be professional athletes or become famous musicians. Many of them failed (maybe you know a few famous ones!). Then they proceed to complain about not making it and living in the past… explaining how they were extremely good compared to their home town… (Which is not a good benchmark by the way). Oh. Eventually they will exaggerate how good they were to make themselves feel better about being well past their prime.
Announcing a Goal is just as Bad as Motivational Seminars: You’re doing the same thing as the people who watch motivational videos. Sending a quick jolt of adrenaline (that won’t last) about all the cool stuff you’re going to do and how you just needed to “chew through that brick wall man!”. Avoid these guys like the plague. Anyone who needs to read about someone else’s success to feel better about themselves should go back home to mommy and get a big hug.
Allocation of Time Not Goals
We already know what the primary rebuttal is going to be. “But everyone should have goal posts and deadlines otherwise they won’t stay on track”. We disagree. All this really means is time allocated to an activity. We’ll break down several examples:
How Can I Sell More Product (Not I want to Sell $100K more): Okay, in this case you have to quickly review how much you were able to generate last year. How many man hours did you personally spend on it and how many hours did you pay for help? Then calculate how much more time you’d need to do it to at minimum accomplish this (a annual increase). Then take a step back and say “How can I reduce that amount of time”… now you’ll spend a few minutes a day ruminating about this as you try to solve it (calmly), while adjusting your schedule. You now have the *maximum* amount of time needed to achieve this “goal” and instead… You have framed this as a *problem* related to time. Solve the problem.
How Can I Lose Weight (Not I want to lose 10 pounds): Another easy one solved by time. Calculate how many hours you’re spending at the gym and how many calories you’re consuming. Keep it simple and tally them up and just reduce and increase from there. Since you’ve now framed this into a *problem* (I need to reduce weight) you can now adjust how much time you spend attacking this problem. Another easy one solved by a calculation and you won’t even have to adjust the amount of time per day you’re spending on this problem.
How Can I Have More Friends (Not I need one new best friend): As a quick reminder, there is no need for some huge crew of friends, you’ll find that you have a handful of real friends and the rest are pretty much hoping you’ll fail. That said, this problem is solved without a goal as well. All you’re really saying is you want to allocate more time to your social life. Stop and think about what type of person you want to be around, a basic frame work. Once that’s done you simply spend more of your social hours in those locations. Again, you’ve framed this as a problem instead of a goal because you’ll increase the number of friends you have over a period of time if you simply spend time in the right markets.
How Can I Speak a New Language (Not I want to be fluent in a language): Instead of assuming that you’ll be fluent in a specific time frame (very difficult to predict fluency), you can say you want to speak a new language. This can mean basic Russian, conversational Russian, Fluent Russian or Native Russian (where you know the slang as well). We don’t know where you are in the language curve and it doesn’t matter… this is now a *problem* that needs to be solved. You now sit down and review where you are and what tools you need. If you know nothing, you allocate time to free courses online, if you have a basic understanding you should probably make a couple of trips to the country and buy some books at your reading level (and practice)… so on and so forth. You’ll find the same dynamic at play, this is a function of time.
Conclusion: To recap this, instead of having Goals you’re going to frame your life into problem solving. Problem solving just means the allocation of time to specific topic and potentially resource constraints (then you need to throw money at it to help solve it). Now remember, we’ve stated that goals are not useful because you should never speak about them. Problems are the same way. You don’t talk about your problems to people (they don’t care anyway) so we’ve reduced the chances you’ll even talk about it. (Yes, yes, if the person you’re speaking to is someone you need to help solve your problem then of course you have to tell them what you’re looking for).
– Figure out what problems are most important to you and allocate time to sit down and solve them
– Never tell anyone what your problem is (again, they do not care)
– Find a minimum amount of additional time needed to help solve your problem (see improvement long-term)
– Do not create goal posts as they will be a negative reminder of “not making it yet”
– If you can’t find time, you didn’t care about it anyway
There you have it. A short rant on goals and instead we’ve outlined a game plan that won’t require a “New Years Resolution” ever again. We’d like to thank all those guys clogging up the gym that are now starting to give up. We noticed the dismay as they didn’t get what they wanted immediately and suffered depression within 11 full days! New Years resolutions cause depression by around February 14 every single year (not for our readers though!).
As Usual No Questions.