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Goals vs. Projects Goals vs. Projects
by Joseph Gatt
2021-03-20 11:34:09
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Stephen R. Covey uses a phrase in his great book “the 7 habits of highly effective people” that you need to “begin with the end in mind.”

While I agree with a lot of the stuff in the book, that's one quote I disagree with.

Why do I disagree with goal setting and “beginning with the end in mind”? Simple. When setting goals, people tend to be the victims of the “availability bias” or “available information bias.”

gol0001_400What do I mean by that? If you start setting goals, a lot of times you're going to set yourself the goal of “becoming president” or “becoming the CEO” or “making a fortune” simply because that the only information that's available to you. After all, only those in top positions appear on television.

So if you set yourself goals, chances are you're very likely to be disappointed, because reaching them is going to take, like, forever.

So rather than set goals, you want to start projects. At least that's what I root for.

What are the differences between goals and projects? Let me give you a few examples for clarity purposes.



I want to become the President of my country.

I want to enter the world of politics and learn as much as I can about politics, and build myself a political career. I'll take any available political position and start from there.

I want to become a billionaire.

I want a good career in business. So I'll take any available job in business, and start from there. I want to spend my entire career in business, hopefully build my own business project further down the road.

I want to start my financial firm.

I want to work with people in finance. So I'll mix with them and see what's available in that world. I'll take a paid job in the world of finance, and hopefully further down the road I'll start my own financial firm, but I'm not sure what kind of financial products I'll be providing by then.

I want to lose 20 pounds.

I want to lead a permanent healthy lifestyle that involves eating less salty, fatty and sugary food and eating more fresh food. Part of the healthy lifestyle will be watching what I eat and picking up a permanent sports activity.

I want to get a Ph.D.

The world of research fascinates me and I'm interested in research and working in the research world. So maybe I'll get myself a job as an assistant researcher or at some research institute. Once I fully understand how research works, maybe I'll try enrolling in a Ph.D. course while working full time in the world of research.

You get the idea. If you set yourself the goal of becoming the Olympic champion and World Champion in sprinting, you're going to quickly get frustrated. So you want to train in sprinting, immerse yourself in sprinting and if you have what it takes to become world champion or Olympic champion, that will show up naturally.

You don't play tennis to become world number 1, you play tennis to compete and enjoy the competition. You don't try to become a world leader, you try to work for organizations that have a global mission and enjoy working for such organizations in some role.

So the difference between goal setting and starting projects is that, when you set yourself goals, you're probably going to choose a goal of what's visible in the media or in your community, and achieving your goal is going to be frustrating.

However, if you start a project, that means you will be discovering the small things that never get mentioned in the media or in leadership. And when you accumulate knowledge of small, unnoticed things, that's when you start becoming leadership material.

Good luck with your projects!

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