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January is for goals!

Actually, Fuck Big Goals

Dear ones, this will be our last post of 2018. After that, we’ll be taking our usual two-week winter vacation. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in 2019.

And let’s be real here—we’ll be at our worst. Doughy from cheese plates; mildly queasy from eggnog; loaded down with gifts of questionable usefulness; viciously introverted from mandatory holiday interactions with people. December is a month during which I often feel overfed and slothful, yet also exhausted and kinda seasonally depressed. But January is better. January is for goals! My Catholic guilt over nonstop holiday partying conspires with hardcore New Years Mood to shove me off the couch and make me strike at my goals like a holly jolly king cobra!

My goals for this year are modest. And that’s how I like it. I think we spend way too much time talking about the benefits of huge goals, and far too little on tiny goals.

Big, hairy, audacious goals

Shudder.

People love to talk about “big, hairy, audacious goals,” a term I find unnecessarily gross. Why does it have to be hairy? There’s no usage of the word “hairy” that isn’t vile. Wtf. Anyway…

Setting a daring, almost-too-big goal can work. That’s how JFK sent strong, handsome, square-jawed American men to the moon!

One massive, awe-inspiring goal is a great tool for businesses and people who run businesses because it does two things: focus and invigorate. The company I work for has over one hundred thousand global employees. That’s a lot of fucking manpower! If our CEO said “build me a life-size gingerbread house by close of business today,” he’d be all set for Hansel and Gretel by 5 p.m. Central Standard.

But as we’ve noted before: businesses are not people. And the solutions that work great for businesses don’t necessarily translate to personal solutions. We don’t have a business’s discretion to drop obligations in order to make sudden pivots. Businesses have way more resources and specialized support functions than a private individual will ever have. Businesses don’t have social and biological needs, goddamn it! I need to watch The Fugitive and sleep for eight hours, so fuck off with your moon shot. It ain’t happening tonight, Jack!

Ted Talky people rave about the practice of setting huge, ambitious goals like it’s some kind of secret, magical key to unprecedented success.

To me, this stinks of bullshit.

The people who crow about the importance of big goals seem to disproportionately be self-promotional motivational speakers, self-promotional authors, and self-promotional Silicon Valleyish entrepreneurs. Notice a theme?

The advice may or may not actually work for them; I have no idea. But I do know that it’s much easier to package and sell than the kind of goal-setting that actually works.

Smol, simple, baby goals

The secret to achievement, like the Book of Love, is long and boring. It doesn’t package up neatly into a snazzy new product, program, or package that will Finally Help You Unleash Your True Potential and Live Your Best Life.

You are one person. Today, you need to sleep, eat, drive to work, take a shower, talk to people, go to the grocery store, pay bills, and yell at the dog for chowing down on used tampons. (No? Just me? Okay, if you say so…)

At the end of the day, you likely only have a couple of hours of discretionary time to dedicate to the pursuit of personal goals—and there are many, many everyday life occurrences jostling to lay claim to that time.

Your goals have to scale to the amount of time you have to invest in them.

If you try to shove ten pounds of goals into a one-pound bag, of course you’re going to fail. Failure is demoralizing and makes you less likely to want to try again.

So fuck big, hairy, audacious goals. Set smol, simple, baby goals.

Success is a mansion made of Legos

I am an ambitious person (obviously). (House Slytherin for life, motherfucker.)

In the grand course of my life, I will achieve great things. My dream, right now, is to become a full-time helpful Internet person by making Bitches Get Riches my career. But that is a dream—not a goal. And dreams are not goals! Goals are things you can fail; dreams are built of far more enduring stuff.

Instead, week after week, I set smol, simple, baby goals. These were this week’s BGR goals:

[ ] Write a new article
[ ] Add artwork to existing draft articles
[ ] Spend half an hour answering questions for Patreon donors
[ ] Email all the companies asking me to set up affiliate programs and tell them to kindly pound sand

Seriously, that’s it! I don’t have time for more! There’s just too much other stuff going on in my life. Like picking up used tampon shreds, see above.

But over the course of years and years, each of those little tasks acts like one Lego brick. They don’t do anything on their own, other than cause excruciating pain when trod upon. But stack enough of them, and you’ll have a wall. And you can do a lot with walls.

These are what our walls have looked like:

Year Zero (2016)

[X] Pick a name
[X] Buy a domain
[X] Set up a website
[X] Write, but do not publish, two articles every week

We really did that, by the way. We were determined not to be fly-by-night. It was our way of proving, to ourselves and to each other, that we were serious about Bitches Get Riches. I mean, as serious as we get. Butts butts butts.

Once we built those four Lego walls, we suddenly had a Lego room. We liked how it turned out, so we kept building more.

Year One (2017)

[X] Launch the site and make everything live
[X] Continue to write two articles every week
[X] Set up Twitter and Tumblr accounts
[X] Make Internet friends

Year Two (2018)

[X] Continue to write one new article every week
[X] Branch out into Instagram and Pinterest
[X] Set up a Patreon account
[X] Set up a merch store

Every year, Lego upon Lego, building walls, building rooms. We stack our efforts in fifteen-minute, one-hour, one-weekend-sized pieces. It’s only a couple of rooms right now, but a few more and it’ll be a glam-ass mansion spacious enough for all of our Breyer Mini-Whinnies!

If our goal from the outset had been “bEcOmE fAmUs N sExXxY bLoGgErZ” it would’ve been like frantically trying to build a Lego mansion with six fucking bricks in the least useful sizes and colors. There is no way in Dante’s frosty and—can I say it?—excessive ninth hell that we would’ve kept going.

Happy goal-setting!

If you, like so many others, find yourself thinking about your hopes and dreams as the new year approaches, set yourself up for success by choosing smol, simple, baby goals.

Consider the amount of time and energy you realistically have to invest. Break it down into what you can do in a day, a week, a month. Don’t let your goals be a crushing weight you put on yourself. Don’t calibrate your expectations of yourself against what a douchebag hawking a $2,000 motivational online course says you’re capable of. And don’t deny yourself the simple human joy of unscheduled do-whatever time.

There is nothing to unleash. You are already you. There is no secret, hyper-productive, ultra-successful version of yourself you are cruelly denying the right to shine.

Real success is much more likely to be tiny, repetitive, and quiet. You’re not doing anything wrong if that’s what your personal growth looks like.

More of our articles on goal setting:

The future of BGR

We flatter ourselves by thinking you want to know what our smol, simple, baby goals for 2019 are. Slash we have big egos and we’re here to make it clear:

Year Three (2019)

[ ] Continue to write one new article every week
[ ] Use our Patreon donors’ help to pilot a podcast
[ ] Formally launch the podcast
[ ] Release new podcasts on an as-yet-to-be-determined schedule

YEP. That’s happening!

We’ve been polling our beloved patrons on the length, style, frequency, and topics they’d like to hear covered. And today I’ve formally asked them to start sending in questions for Piggy and I to answer in our pilot episodes. They will probably be laughably terrible to begin with, so only our Patreon donors will ever get to (have to?) hear them.

If you want to be a part of it, head on down to Patreon.com.

See you all next year!

Liked it? Support us on Patreon!

10 thoughts to “Actually, Fuck Big Goals”

  1. First you pooh pooh big goals and the motivational speakers/self help books that promote them. Note that all the “big goal” TED talks and books tell you to divide it up into smaller, shorter term goals and monthly or weekly task lists.

    Then you give an example of breaking down a big goal (that you’re clearly on the way to achieving) into smaller goals and weekly task lists. Which is LITERALLY THE SAME THING. Note grammatically correct use of the word literally.

    All I got from this is that you feel qualified to criticize content that you clearly didn’t watch or read. Guess how much credibility you just lost by posting this.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I think there’s a big psychological difference between setting a huge goal and breaking it into steps vs. setting tiny goals and letting them stack into something bigger organically over time. The former requires a ton of vision and purpose—and if you stop, you fail. The latter doesn’t require a specific long-term vision, but a flexible approach that addresses short-term realities and allows for pivoting or cessation without the sense of failure.

      I’m glad you noticed that I feel qualified to criticize content I clearly didn’t watch or read! I will reinforce this in the near future with upcoming articles on my contempt for both the sitcom Joey and the last 750 pages of Infinite Jest.

  2. *claps* YEP. Peer pressure isn’t usually an issue for me but the self pressure to do big big things every year is and I always need to remind myself of these: regular, persistent incremental steps gets me there faster and more consistently than anything like those “big hairy goals”.

    Happiest of holidays!! See you in 2019.

  3. Love it- this is a really healthy and helpful mindset for getting shit done. I tend to lose momentum quickly (even though I love huge goals and big plans), so here’s to 2019 being the year of smol goals!

    PS. Hells yes podcast please!
    PPS. My dog once dragged out a half consumed used maxi pad and deposited at the feet of my high school boyfriend and my best dude friend.

  4. I’m so excited about the podcast!! I love this post and that you’re differentiating between big goals broken into smaller steps and small goals that stack together to make something big. I think big goals definitely have their place, like this year I set my big goal to apply to grad school, but you’re right that we only have so many hours in a day and can only take on so much.

  5. Hilarious! I agree with you on everything. I have only a couple “overarching” goals, then sub goals to accomplish that, but it’s all broken down to what I can do in a month, week, and day. Honestly, the day is the most important thing. Having a rock hard body might be nice, but let’s just start with at least 30 minutes of exercise on MOST days, mkay! Best of luck with the new podcast and the new year.

  6. Love this, effing love it. I’ve just finished my PhD, the grimmest, most life sucking large goal ever, by piling up little Lego research and writing achievements over the years. (Also made and am raising a tiny human, do not recommend these as concurrent life projects). My temptation to now look for another huuuuuge goal to cram unrealistically into my life is very real, so thanks for being another voice of sanity. So fist bump from across the ocean

  7. You are fucking brilliant – not only for this new approach (which I love) but for this: I will reinforce this in the near future with upcoming articles on my contempt for both the sitcom Joey and the last 750 pages of Infinite Jest.

    I’m heading to Patreon to donate just because of that quote.

  8. Kitty,

    You always amaze me with your witty banter!

    I actually try to set really high unrealistic goals. That way even if they don’t pan out, I’m still a lot further along than where I started from. 😉

    A mansion made of Legos. LMAO!!!

    Yes, and get that merch store going. When I was watching an episode of Total Divas Nikki Bella was like John Cena sells so much merch. And his net worth is, like you said JFK did to American men, up to the moon.

    Miriam

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