I read or viewed personal development advice and now can't find it again
July 23, 2021 1:56 PM   Subscribe

I know, tough question. I'm usually pretty good about bookmarking articles or videos I find helpful or useful, but if I did I can't find it. The article's premise was that Goals are not of any particular value, since people often chase after the same goals all or most of their lives. Instead the article recommended focusing on a list of things and the first thing in the list (not surprisingly) did not entail a goal at all. Somewhat more detail after the break.

My memory of the article or video was that it was by someone I thought had some credibility and the suggested alternative steps for personal development were logical. So I'm thinking like a Charlie Munger or Warren Buffet or Psychology Today or a TED talk or a Roman or Greek philosopher or something, as opposed to some random blogger.

I have found this virtually impossible to find via Google (e.g., "goals are worthless" brings up hits on when goals are worthless, or which types of goals are worthless, and plenty of fluff on "SMART").

I know there's the "invert" principle, where you purposely avoid actions that would be your own undoing. And that's close, and maybe even might have been it.

Note that it is OK if you recommend books, videos or articles that would match my memory, even if it doesn't end up being the one I actually encountered previously. That would still be helpful!

I know, these kinds of questions are hard, so I'll understand if it goes unanswered. I just though it was worth a shot. Thanks in advance.
posted by forthright to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like Mark Manson.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:01 PM on July 23, 2021

Best answer: Perhaps this video: Goals are useless. Or this.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:04 PM on July 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I couldn't think of any third-party articles that matched, that I've read anyway.

I do a lot of blogging about goals as they relate to personality dynamics. In that kind of case, you'll find the concept of the trickster-goal, wherein there's always this thing you can't quite get right, and in which progress never quite satisfies you. That's a pretty helpful model because yeah, you can burn yourself up in the pursuit of your non-strengths. And it's always easiest to call this out in other people than in oneself.

Regarding inversion I designed a productivity system called Task BATL that is meant to integrate opposites. For example I found that sufficient emotional venting about how much you hate a project can be a more or less direct ramp into robotic, emotion-free productivity. So there's a module that is based on that kind of activity.

But I admit that I'm also not super keen on the idea of the next steps in one's life always being logical; often they seem completely irrational to the subject and everyone involved...hope you find what you're looking for.
posted by circular at 2:07 PM on July 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, super fast replies. Well, clearly this wasn't as hard as I thought.

Yes iamkimiam I will review your video link. Also and based on a Google search of "Mark Manson Goals" I also see this text post that Your Goals in Life Are Overrated.

Thanks also circular for your insights as well.

Needless to say I will both YouTube save and also pin in Pinboard these and any other candidates added to this thread.

And I guess my original clues were a bit harsh when I said "some random blogger". I was just trying to narrow down the field, but of course it ended up being a misdirection or discourtesy. Sorry about that!
posted by forthright at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Jason Fried of Basecamp wrote a blog post on their Signal v. Noise blog about having never set a goal in his life.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:58 PM on July 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, has a great idea on goals versus systems - and that is that goals are not important, but a system that takes care of goals is important.

Forget about setting goals. Focus on this instead - is what the blog post is entitled.

Scott Adams, author of Dilbert and the book 'How to fail at almost everything and still win big', wrote basically the exact same idea in that book, and blogged about it here in a post called Goals vs. Systems.

I've been recently putting this concept to work, and it does work wonders.
posted by scooterdog at 7:29 PM on July 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Somewhere I read earlier this year "amateurs focus on outcomes, professionals focus on process." I take that as saying when you have outcomes you want, you can make the path to those outcomes easier or better. If you have outcomes you don't want, look at how they came to be, not what they are. (If there's process in front of you, work the steps of the process until they become habitual and you can focus creative energy not in the process but the activity it organises.)
posted by k3ninho at 4:14 AM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks very much kevinbelt, scooterdog and k3ninho!

I am now incorporating *all* the links above into a separate document so I can include notes on my take-aways (as opposed to only having them tagged as personal_development in Pinboard).
posted by forthright at 1:21 PM on July 24, 2021

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