🤯Unknown Unknowns #57 - The Problem with Goals
2 min read

🤯Unknown Unknowns #57 - The Problem with Goals

🤯Unknown Unknowns #57 - The Problem with Goals

For those in the States, Happy Fourth of July!
A reminder to do the things that you want to do or the things that allow you to do those things.  Accumulating open ended options by doing things you hate leads to pressure to accomplish something great with no room for failure.


It might sound like I just told you to have objectives, but obsessing over objectives is just as painful as ignoring them.

Patrick O'Shaughnessy interviews Kenneth Stanley on the Invest Like the Best podcast.

Key Ideas:

The consensus approach to building is goal oriented.  See goal, See steps, Do steps.  But "almost no prerequisite to any major invention was invented with that invention in mind."  In fact, "the things that lead to the things you want don't look like the things that you want."

It follows that "there is no good strategy to achieve a specific thing that we don't know how to do."  You can only "maximize the chance of achieving something useful, but not a specific thing."

What's the approach?  Two steps:  First step, recognize intermediate stepping stones that can be used to build on like legos.  Second step, keep track of these stepping stones and follow what's interesting to you.

This is risky, so you need to mitigate risk with a portfolio approach

These ideas are similar to the Small Bets philosophy that I've mentioned before.  I'm getting more and more convinced of this approach and I'm seeing it more and more frequently.

However, the biggest idea to me is encapsulated in this quote:

It seems as though the anxiety associated with goals, at least from my personal experience, is that you said something you want, even if it's naïve like, "I want more money," or whatever it is, "I want the perfect spouse," all the things that I think we all say we have as objectives that you're just living this state of anxiety, horrible anxiety because you don't yet have the thing you want.

Goals provide a sense of certainty - I feel that if I keep working toward a goal, I will accomplish it if I am disciplined.  But what actually happens is a sense of anxiety because of the unfulfilled tension.  And of course, as soon as you complete a goal, you have to set a new one.  But not having goals means living in a state of uncertainty, which creates anxiety in us all as well.

Maybe ignorance is bliss.

Ignorance is Bliss?

Questions, suggestions, complaints?  Email me me at [email protected].  Feedback welcome.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it with a friend or two.  And feel free to send anything you find interesting to me!

Leaving you in peace,