The Paradox of Goals

Posted Jan 22, 2023

The Paradox of Goals by Anne-Laure Le Cunff. Interesting read, and a similar approach to what’s suggested in Atomic Habits: focus on building habits instead of just setting goals.


Here lies the paradox of goals: Setting goals is a guarantee for disillusionment whether we reach the desired state or not, and yet working toward goals is an important part of evolving as a person.

The solution, inspired by nature itself, is to design growth loops by practicing deliberate experimentation.

By turning goals into growth loops, we can embrace the idea that achievement is simply the continuation of the learning cycle itself. Sure, the future is uncertain, but our personal growth is inevitable.

It doesn’t help that modern life has created a giant public leaderboard that maintains the artificial need to “keep up” — to persist on climbing the ladder as new rungs are incessantly added.

Two key ingredients are required to pursue a goal: the will and the way. The will is our motivation — a reason why we want to achieve the goal, which gives us the energy to push ourselves. The way is our ability to map out the steps to take and acquire the skills we need to execute the required actions.