I’m a little hungover and feeling feisty. So I’ll say it again. Fuck goals. Why? Because a goal sets you up with a proposition of success or failure based upon a specific outcome. And guess what? You’re not in control of the outcome. You are only responsible for your effort in the process of attaining your goal. So instead of goals, I set intentions. It’s similar, but a little different.
An intention recognizes that I am working toward something, with my best effort. That I can do. That I am responsible for. That means no matter what happens, I can still be happy. The results of my effort will not control how I judge myself. So for example, if my goal is to win at poker, but I end up losing, does that mean I should look at myself as a loser that night? Most of us do. I always did. But if instead of having the goal of winning, I have the intention to play the best poker game I can...then whether I win or not doesn’t change how I feel about myself. Sure, I would prefer to win. But I only judge myself based on how I played, not whether I won. Because winning depends on the cards, the other players, as well as my own effort. I could play perfectly and suffer a ‘bad beat’ on the river (that means an unlucky loss when the odds are in my favor).
In the scenario mentioned above where I play great but lose, I should be happy with myself for meeting my intention of playing the best poker game I could. Now, if I don’t play well, if I allow myself to get emotional, or lazy, or greedy, or timid, then I can look to improve. That is the process of getting better. And that would be the second intention: 1) Do my best, and 2) learn and improve.
This example is about poker, but I don’t really play poker very often. Like most of us, I play at life, and it’s hard as fuck to follow this rule. Because I want to WIN. I want Onnit to be successful, I want to make a difference in the world, I want to be loved, I prefer these outcomes because they are more fun. But I suffer when I pretend that I am fully responsible for their fruition. I’m not. I’m only responsible for my part. And that really takes a lot of the fear away. Because the most painful thing we suffer is often our own self-criticism and judgment. That is what we are afraid of the most. Other people’s criticism, the ‘haters’, don’t hurt if you don’t internalize and match their sentiments with your own self-judgment. So when we are afraid of suffering that is out of our control, we are always going to be afraid. When I am doing something with fear of self-rebuke, I am less present, I don’t perform as well, and I am less likely to attain my objective. So not only does setting an intention vs. a goal keep me happier, it actually helps me achieve the desired outcome.
So whatever your goals are for 2019, I invite you to change them to intentions. Do your best, and learn along the way. If you aren’t doing your best, or you aren’t learning… that is something you are responsible for. It’s okay to give yourself some tough love in that case. But never beat yourself up because you didn’t achieve an outcome that was outside of your control in the first place. Just be ruthlessly honest with yourself about your own effort, and your commitment to observe, acknowledge, and learn from your mistakes.
Some things take a long time to learn. I was given that lesson in 2018. A lot of the things I thought I had already learned, under pressure I would forget. Sometimes with relatively catastrophic results. But that’s still learning. So here comes another intention. Forgive yourself always. Love yourself enough to demand your best effort, but also Love yourself enough to forgive and move forward. That too is going to yield the best result, because it will give you the courage to get out there and do it. Do that thing you are scared of, because there really is nothing to fear once you surrender to your effort, and promise to forgive your failure.
This week’s podcast is with one of the most motivating humans I have ever been around. The legendary Iceman Wim Hof. He is taking his own personal practice to levels of mastery even beyond the cold and the breath, and he is rippling with enthusiasm about what he is exploring.
Just as another note, I’ve really been enjoying getting to know some of you from the Fit For Service fellowship. You guys are an incredible group, and your positivity is absolutely contagious. Our Q1 for physically fit is closed for enrollment, but we are going to leave the applications open for a Q2 start in the mentally fit segment of the journey. Those who are accepted for a Q2 start, will finish the cycle with physically fit in Q1 of 2020. But there will be no new applications available in 2019 after we select the class for the Q2 start. Q3’s emotionally fit and Q4’s spiritually fit are too closely predicated on the lessons we will be learning in Q2’s mentally fit to accept further applications. I hope I explained that saliently...as I mentioned. I’m hungover ;)
I wish you guys an epic start to 2019. Sending so much love and happiness your way, from the most abundant heart I have had in a long long time.