THE COST OF GOALS (An Un-seeing Exercise)

THE COST OF GOALS (An Un-seeing Exercise)

High-performance coach and personal growth trainer Brendon Burchard does not believe in S.M.A.R.T. goals.  You know the ones: Specific… Measurable…. Actionable…. Relevant…. Time-Bound.

Burchard admits that S.M.A.R.T. goals work just fine, but he thinks they’re lame.  He says they keep us playing small.  He may be right.

Instead of S.M.A.R.T. goals, the best-selling author, whose books include THE CHARGE, THE MILLIONAIRE MESSENGER, LIFE’S GOLDEN TICKET and THE MOTIVATION MANIFESTO, says he wants you to formulate and get behind D.U.M.B. goals – Dream-Driven, Uplifting, Method-Friendly and Behavior-Driven.

Here’s his YouTube video, “How NOT to Set Goals,” that delineates his own take on goal-making.  It is a beautifully expressed, well-argued rant that gets you thinking way bigger thoughts.

As an internet guru who also coaches, Burchard is certainly impressive.  In 2015 Huffington Post called Burchard “one of the Top 100 Most Followed Public Figures on Facebook.”

He’s the star and executive producer of the #1 self-help show on YouTube and his podcast, The Charged Life, debuted at #1 on iTunes across all categories in multiple countries.

Burchard’s well-attended seminars include High Performance Academy, a “now-legendary personal development program for achievers,” it says here, and Experts Academy, a comprehensive marketing training for authors, speakers, coaches and on-line thought leaders.


The thing about goals that nobody (except creaky, ancient wise guys who were probably broke-ass mendicants on the side of the road) points out is that all of our goals are absolute mind-constructs.  They’re completely made-up, predetermined outcomes that we want to happen in the Great Someday.

Since nobody knows what the future is likely to bring, how can we know whether this outcome or that one (which we actually made up out of the limited knowledge we have) is the only good outcome?  The wise guys wonder about this.

They point out that there are many possible outcomes.  Some of them might be really great.  Others, not so much.  The wise guys tell us that being fixed on just one outcome could actually be quite limiting.

Many of us have experienced times when we’ve been exceedingly focused on a single desired outcome in our lives.

We fixated on achieving that one chosen goal or reaching that one predetermined milestone or grasping that one perfect opportunity in our careers and we narrowed our focus down so much that we become blind to and completely missed all of the other excellent goals, milestones, and opportunities that  also happened to be dancing around right in front of us.

Sage Silhouette by eflon via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
We are bombarded every day with messages from the media and from other social networks and groupthink tanks that are constantly trying to tell us and sell us on how we, too, can be rich and famous and hap-hap-happy, just like the latest cool celebrity-type flashing across the sky.

Experts abound to tell us how we, too, can hack our lives and ourselves into a semblance of some version of a rich, famous, physically beautiful, powerful  persona living a life that is nothing like ordinary.  (How can we even think about being happy if we are merely ordinary?  Right?)

So, we make up these goals and then we focus and fixate on achieving them, using the goals to motivate us to keep on making our moves toward that better, brighter future that we imagine is just around the corner.

If we’re really good at working them, then we very often do achieve at least some of these goals.  We like to think that is a good thing.

However, the wise guys point out that fixating on achieving a future fantasy outcome pretty much means that we are not really looking at where we are.

In fact we’re so busy looking at and working toward that one specific sparkly future outcome that it’s unlikely that we will actually be able to just enjoy the moment in which we are currently living.


It’s sort of makes sense, that.  You only set out to “improve” things if you are not happy with the way things are.  What this means is that goals and discontent probably do walk hand-in-hand.

Once the goal is reached, of course, then you have this wonderful new set of problem-solving skills that sends you off to correct and make right yet another discontent.

Just because you’ve achieved your one, pre-set “I’ll-be-really-truly-happy-when” goal doesn’t mean that you can shut off the future-oriented mindset you used to get it done.

Have you ever noticed how the guys who are really good at reaching their goals always seem to come up with new and bigger and better goals to reach for?

They usually don’t stop after they’ve resolved their original discontent.  Instead, they just find more discontents they feel they need to fix.

If you fail somehow to reach your fantasy outcome, you are very likely to feel bad and may be prone to beat yourself up about it or lose all hope of ever improving your situation in the way you would prefer.

It becomes a whole other movie that is also not conducive to promoting happiness and contentment.


Fixating on narrow, pre-set goals (especially the ones that are pushed at you by the society in which you live) the wise guys say, is very likely to blind you to new opportunities for happiness that open up in completely new-to-you directions.

With your eyes locked onto your one ultimate goal, you are unlikely to notice any other possible path to happiness and success.  Like the racehorse wearing blinders, you can only see the track in front of you and the finish line at the far end.

Gallop14 by TheBobman via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]


One alternative to this laser-like focus on some already mapped-out trail is to become immersed in deliberate innovation and creativity, to look at the way the world is changing and to look for the paths that wander off into the untracked wilderness.  Then you choose to follow one to see where it might lead.

This YouTube video, called “Change the Game” was published by MindWerx.  It points to a way of looking at how the world is changing and how to choose paths to follow that may lead you to interesting places.

You’ll have to pay attention and learn to play with the life that is all around you.

All kinds of questions will come up:  Where does this trail lead?  What lessons can you learn?  Is this side-road a way forward for you?  Does this thing work?  What about that one?

As the 19th-century English biologist Thomas H. Huxley once said, we must “be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever or to whatever abysses nature leads, or [we] shall learn nothing.

Here’s a poem:


And this is the goal

When you play in the Real:

To find the still point

That is in you, sitting there

Obscured by World thoughts

And dreams and schemes,

And to stand there looking

Into the Void

Where yin and yang

Do their eternal dance of now.


To reach that high plateau

You have to slog through

Muddy bogs of despair and doubt

That leave your legs encrusted with

A thick layer of mud, which

Falls off in big chunks as

The hot sun bakes the mud boots off

While you climb up the steep slopes

Built by worldly ambition and pride.


And when you’ve climbed many a day and night,

And more, and more, and more,

Through buffeting winds and sudden storms,

Through chill and misty obfuscations,

Through illusion and through dreams,

You finally reach the top

And look out into that wondrous abyss

Of deepest warm mystery.


And wouldn’t you know it?

The next thing you have to do is jump.

By Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  The Finish Line Where Everything Just Ends by Amy Sian Green via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]



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Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.









16 thoughts on “THE COST OF GOALS (An Un-seeing Exercise)

  1. Brandon Cox says:

    Wow, so that challenged everything I’ve been working under for a while now. In my organizations, SMART goals are a part of our weekly flow. But I love the part about the power of being discontent. This is huge. I believe we ought to get frustrated and agitated at the way things are when they’re broken so that we’re driven to fix them. Really great piece here!

    1. Hey Brandon: Thanks for the visit and your comments. I just love it when I can come up with something that nudges somebody into thinking other, different thoughts! Please do come again….

  2. Hello,
    I have used s.m.a.r.t. goals in all areas of my life for years and years and I’ve always considered them to work just fine.
    Then, I read your post and all of a sudden, I’ve changed my mind. I love the d.u.m.b goals.
    It never occurred to me that goals could be limiting.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and love your style of writing. Keep up the great work

    1. Hey Jackie…thanks for your visit and your comments. It is a bit of a mind-boggle, isn’t it? Please do come again.

  3. Christopher says:

    Hi Netta:

    The two selves is an interesting and useful way to look at myself. It’s a concept I haven’t considered until now.

    After reading your post, I realize that I have always fought to maintain my Essential Self but I lose many of the battles. I find that the Social Self wins way too often. There is much pressure to “fit in” and “do the right thing.” So much so that whenever I want to bring my essential self into the open, I feel that I am being selfish.

    I love when you said the Essential Self sounds a lot like it’s right brained and the Social, left-brained. I am a very right-brained person and often struggle to flip myself into the world of logic. I think this is part of my introverted nature.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. It’s quite enlightening!

    1. Hi Christopher:

      Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad it was helpful to you.

      Please do come again….

  4. Andy Morris says:

    I’ve always been irritated by the SMART thing. Thanks for providing another view that is uplifting. I always think people can be limited by their goals. In my mind, whatever you hold in your mind is going to happen as long as you let it. The problem is we want the path to be perfect too so at the first sign of trouble they reject it. Anyway I like your approach, art meets business. Keep it up!

    1. Andy, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I like “art meets business” — a succinct summation, I think.  

      You are right.  The need for perfection does play havoc with getting to goals.  It all has to be “just so” or it’s not worth anything at all.  (Sigh!)

      Please do come again.

  5. Boniface-AndroidBix says:

    Hi Netta,

    You have made what remains of my day today! 

    This is a whole paradigm shift. A completely different way of doing things. I like the D.U.M.B. approach compared to the good ol’ S.M.A.R.T way. I now would rather have a D for destiny in mind, a U for uplifting style in mind, an M for Method-Friendly or friendly method in mind and a B for behavior driven strategy in all my important goals from now on. 

    SMART goals are still good but now you have made them look, sorry to say, sadly small and limited. 

    I’ve right now thought of 1 wildly big goal for life and I’ll go for it!


    Boniface from AndroidBix

    1. Boniface, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  You make me smile!

      For real, getting the D.U.M.B.s might be a very good thing!

      Please do come again….

  6. DashDNations says:

    This is the way it is. You work to improve one thing and something else get’s put aside. Once you have a goal, there’s always another one after that and another one after that. 

    You’re either moving forward or you’re standing still.  Finding enjoyment in the day to day allows having something to improve on.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, DashDNations.  I think you’re right, of course.  (How not?  You agree with me!  Hee!)

      Please do come again….

  7. Akumendoh says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for this awesome piece on goals. I read somewhere that failure to plan, is already planning to fail. Planning on our goal using the SMART principles is certainly the golden rule. 

    May I just add that while you are at it, you must also Keep It Short and Simple. this is called the KISS principle.

    Will it be correct to say there is a big difference between setting a SMART goal and Making a wish list? Please keep these articles coming

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Akumendoh.

      Your question reminds me of a story a friend of mine told about his Nana (grandma).  She told him, “You go do your dream boy.  Me, I’m too old now.  I can only wish.”

      And that, I think, is the difference between setting a goal and making a wish.  Setting goals and then making them happen means you’re doing your dream.  Wishing is mostly just air.

      Please do come again.

  8. There are different types of people. The left side of the brain goals appeals to some. And more dreamy goals appeal to others. But I believe that those that come up with the realistic goal approach are more organized and that is why their concept has prevailed.

    However, that doesn’t mean that those with dreamy goals can not achieve them.

    1. Abel, I do see your point, that very often the set goal with the very clear targets all pinpointed and marked out is what gets most people motivated and moving towards making changes in their lives that are beneficial and helps them reach prosperity of one sort or another.

      It is, I agree, a very good thing.

      However, before you get too locked in like a guided missile on some target goal or other, you might want to explore and ponder other possibilities as well as look at the long-term consequences of being so totally focused on your proposed target.  (What are you not seeing?  What are you giving up?)

      I’m reminded of the old lament from the corporate man era where the big shot smarty pants who swarmed up the ladder of success is sitting on top of the wall and lamenting because he finally noticed that he had placed his ladder against the wrong wall.

      Please do come again….

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