The Case for Not Setting Goals

Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp, lays out the case for not setting goals in his post I’ve Never Had a Goal. Here are a few choice quotes from the article:

  • I want to make progress, I want to make things better…But I’ve never set a goal.
  • A goal is something that goes away when you hit it. Once you’ve reached it, it’s gone.
  • I consider Basecamp, my current business, as one continuous line back from when I sold the first thing I ever remember making.
  • I just worked at whatever I was working on and ended up wherever I am.
  • Jim Coudal said about goals:

    “The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them, but we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.

Personally, I enjoy the clarity and focus of working towards a target and knowing whether or not it was achieved, especially in the team or company context. On an individual level, I don’t use goals very much, but I do care that I’m always learning and growing, as that’s important to me.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the case for not setting goals?

One thought on “The Case for Not Setting Goals

  1. I usually set goals for the year, but they’re more benchmarks or milestones I want to hit. It helps me to remember to do something to move forward every single day. But I also don’t sit around focusing on my goals – I just keep plugging away at what I’m working on for the day and keep marking tasks off my to-do list (and making sure that I’m making progress of some form each time I do something).

    I think goals are important if only because they help us remember why we’re doing things. That’s what helps me about them, at least. I want to remember my why and have something to look forward to. It’s an excuse to celebrate and it feels really darn good to achieve something.

    That said, I’ve accomplished a lot of things that weren’t goals. I published a book this year, which was never on a list of goals. Performing stand-up was another thing I did that wasn’t a goal. But those helped me reach other goals (even if it was a bit indirectly).

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