Discipline Systems & Tips

Goals Aren’t That Big of a Deal

One of the crucial aspects of time stewardship is setting goals. After all, you have to know where you want to go before you can think about getting there effectively.

But I think we often overestimate the power of goal-setting. And this happens because we don’t understand the process of goal achievement – and we forget the true purpose of goals.

Not a Two-Step Process

People think of accomplishing goals as a two-step process: 1) Set the goal. 2) Make it happen.

The common wisdom is to set the right goal and the achievement virtually takes care of itself. The motivation flows naturally, and action is inevitable.

And when you look at it like that, of course setting the right goal is the most crucial part of the whole process. Achievement is really just an add-on.

But do you think that all the failure we see around us is due to people setting bad goals? I don’t.

We need to understand that accomplishing our goals is not a two-step process. It’s a process with thousands and thousands of steps. Step one is setting the goal, and the other thousands of steps are working on it.

Big Goals

We can set huge lifelong goals, and we can set small weekly goals. We can view our life and what we hope to accomplish through several different lenses and get a very “zoomed out” or a very “zoomed in” perspective.

But actions don’t work that way. There is no such thing as a lifelong action or a weekly action. There is just action in the now.

And that’s the reason for goals. They help us make one very important decision: what to do today.


With one major financial decision, I could choose to spend my entire life savings in an instant.

Not so with time. The idea of one major spending decision doesn’t exist. I have to spend my time one second after another after another. It’s a constant stream of choices.

I heard a quote I liked that sums this up well: “Time management is a series of small but consistent decisions to align our daily life with our deepest values.”

Yes, we can make decisions and commitments about how we want to spend our time – but those commitments are only going to work if we continue to regularly take action to meet them.


I think goals have great power. I certainly think that our life should have direction.

But we have to remember that setting the direction isn’t nearly as important as regularly moving in that direction.

What if we viewed our goals as advisors for our actions instead of viewing our actions as grunt labor for our goals?

Photo Credit: Joe Gatling

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