Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How the idea of having "GOALS" in life is completely MISGUIDING

Pick up any of the popular self-help books, or search any motivational website and you'll come across literature incessantly proselytizing "GOAL Setting". The key to success is all about having the right goals and pursuing those goals doggedly.

"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes of the goal"

Now this quote is from Vince Lombardi who was a football coach. Football is taleb's proverbial extremistan where the superstar effect takes hold.  Now, this quote makes a lot of sense to someone who got successful in a field dominated by luck, but a much better version of the quote would read like this:

"Opportunities are what you see when you take your eyes of the goal"

Even Vince Lombardi was a failure at many things he did, above all as a father. He failed at many different things during his lifetime and only probably settled at something which he thought he could be good at. Quitting at the right time was probably the key to his successes. He quit law school probably because he couldn't see himself as a lawyer, although according to him he needed to settle down and start a family. Success would in this context mean that one needs to at times settle down and just focus at the task at hand. You look for passion/pleasure at work only when you don't have a personal life. Marriage probably solves a lot of these problems by providing a good substitute. With a marriage and responsibility you wouldn't be spending time day dreaming and looking for distant opportunities.

The assumption behind setting goals is you know everything about everything. These goals are set apriori, which basically means that they are based on some sort of projection or extrapolation of the present environment. You cannot set a long term goal without making massive assumptions about what the future is going to look like and what your place in that future will be.

As I have learned from experience, the future doesn't look anything like you've imagined. And setting goals, at least long term goals is a very foolish proposition. Anyone who continues to pursue a long term goal even when the future he had in mind, changes, is a fool himself. The key to success it seems is not to pursue goals altogether, but to live in the present and to learn to quit as soon as possible. Quitting it seems is far more effective than any strategy for success. Opportunities open up all the time around you, and we must open our eyes for these opportunities.

Life is in essence subtractive. You need to figure out what not to do, than to find out what to do and pursue it doggedly. Look around you and grab opportunities when they appear, because they are very rare.

No comments:

Post a Comment