Softly Breaking Up With Goal-Oriented Productivity

I’ve been into goal setting for a really, really long time in my life. I’ve been obsessing with countless measuring systems, productivity techniques and tons of apps and I even created my own productivity framework, called “Assess, Decide, Do”. I even created an online course, called “Goal Setting 101”, and published it on Udemy, a few years ago.

And for a certain amount of time, this seemed to work. Breaking up a potentially frightening objective into small, actionable projects lowered my anxiety and made the whole thing plausible. For a certain amount of time, which I think I can measure in dozens of years now, the goal-oriented productivity approach did its job.

But lately I simply feel there’s more to it.

There’s more to life than just setting up goals and achieving them. There’s more to abundance than just being productive. There’s more to being alive than just doing.

I think I got the whole thing a bit wrong. Not much, but a little bit. In the sense that any goal should be defined over a specific context. Like when you decide to travel, you should decide to travel in a specific, bounded time-space continuum. Or like when you decide to get rich, you should first define what “rich” means in your own world and be very clear of the boundaries you define.

And here comes the most interesting part: that specific context, big surprise, it’s not under our control.

We do have the illusion of control and many of us are clinging to this and are going to great lengths to just maintain this status-quo of whatever idea about “reality” we foster. Alas, we do not control anything, apart from our own reaction to what happens to us. Ideally, this should be enough to let us get by, but we’re always wanting more. More stuff, more illusion coming our way, re-enforcing whatever projections we may have created.

I’m not saying there is no benefit in being productive, I’m barely saying that our ideas of “productivity” may not always be aligned. They’re never aligned, by the way, because there aren’t two identical versions of the Matrix, but as many versions as dreamers are dreaming the Matrix dream. My goal will work as long as it makes sense in my own illusion. The moment I’m aligning this goal with society-enforced versions of my goal, something is starting to smell.

Let me explain.

For me, being rich may mean any of the following:

  • a sense of contentment
  • some predictability for food and shelter
  • the ability to “invest” or have some capital to put at work for different projects
  • freedom to move around

It’s easy now to see that my version of “rich” is not measurable in social stereotypes like being “a millionaire”. Don’t hold your breath, because I’ve been a prisoner of those stereotypes for a long time, like I said in the beginning of the post. I even wrote a book called “30 Sentences for a millionaire mindset”. In your own version of being “rich”, that book may even help you.

So, as long as I define the context for the goal, and as long as I accept the fact that I can’t control the context, I think this goal-setting thing may work. But then again, since the context is always changing, that means the goals will also change.

A lot.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.