Setting goals is simple, but it depends on what you want to achieve.
This fall, I want to hike more in the forest near my home. It’s a 10-minute drive, and all I have to do is grab my car keys and head out. This goal, compared to others, such as writing a novel or researching artificial intelligence isn’t insurmountable. Only a few miles. The exercise and fresh air helps me to focus and think.
The problem I have isn’t that my hiking goal is too high Hard to believe?, it’s that other “goals” in life are far It is easier to understand. I might have a goal to check my Instagram feed and reply to comments, but that doesn’t require that I drive anywhere. I don’t need hiking shoes; I don’t even have to leave my chair.
The author’s latest book, entitled Only a Goal is RequiredThe author Jon Acuff takes on this problem of goal setting. The author explains how we are constantly distracted by things that can distract us from our goals, whether it is finding a better job, or developing a close friendship.
“Twitter doesn’t want you to start a business,” he writes in the book. “TikTok doesn’t want you to run a half-marathon.” His main point in the book is that goals can help us reach our full potential, but distractions can derail us. The simplest tasks can be done faster, more safely, and with less stress. Never say that. As I am waiting for my kids to come home from school I made myself an extremely difficult goal. I’m going to flip through 100 videos on TikTok over the next 20 minutes. Just keep on dreadscrolling mindlessly.
At the same time, while we don’t actually say that or think that consciously, many of us tend to gravitate toward easier tasks because…they are easier. Clay Scroggins, the author of another book I mentioned about how easily we fall for distractions because they’re so powerful.
Acuff quotes my favorite book, ” Four Thousand WeeksThe section compares social media applications to slot machines. The reason we keep on using these apps is that they offer a tiny reward with little effort.
When it comes to setting goals, productivity experts face a different challenge. Often in life, setting what are called “near goals” is smart. In my productivity book, I cover these near goals. It’s better to set a goal to hike for a mile because you might accomplish that, as opposed to starting off with a 10-mile hike and then never hiking at all — the goal is too monumental.
The social media has distorted this near-goal concept, which is covered in the best seller. Atomic HabitsAs humans, our tendency is to gravitate towards what makes life easier. When faced with stressful situations we always pick a route that avoids conflict.
Acuff makes it clear in his book that one must be deliberate about their goals. They should also choose the best ones and make a concerted effort to measure success. He describes a method that involves goals at different levels.
Curiously, the social media examples he gives don’t ever factor into the equation in reaching your potential (big surprise there!) — they are always mentioned as a way to derail potential.
Goal-setting requires foresight, patience and intentionality. The easy tasks, which may seem related to setting goals and achieving potential but are in fact a complete waste of time, must be eliminated.
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