Commitments, Goals, Dreams

People selling seminars love to make claims about small goals equaling small gains, and that we have to think big, dream big, have grand goals, even big hairy audacious goals, to ever accomplish anything.

As I am wont to say, balderdash. Poppycock. Piffle. The power of small wins is irrefutable. Check out anything written by Teresa Amabile.

Rosanne Bane explains in her book the solid brain science that we should have firm commitments, and that they should be so small that reaching them is a doddle, and that we should also have goals that stretch us, but which we’re not committed to. In that way we can stretch when it’s good without teaching ourselves to fail by constantly falling short.

It’s popular to tell people to shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land in the stars. It makes good poetry and sells seminars. But brain science says that a goal you can reach is infinitely more motivating than one you can’t, plain and simple.

Those “goals” Rosanne talks about—I call them dreams. I have huge dreams. I take baby steps all the time toward those dreams. If I didn’t have a bright light on my horizon, what would I aim for? But delaying happiness, contentment, the feeling of accomplishment, until “someday” when I get there? Nonsense.

5 thoughts on “Commitments, Goals, Dreams

  1. I’m with you, Joel. Incremental victories are that: victories. The sense of accomplishment and good footing gained from signing off on—or moving forward in—a “minor” project is tangible. Or when you make tiny gains in a large project, like me making what should be—by Odin’s beard, they should be—the final changes today to the electronic files for a novel.

    I feel good about that. (Won’t go back and double-check again, I won’t, I won’t …)

  2. This, along with all of the adjacent posts around this subject matter, Joel, is fabulous. I love this website so much, just the way it’s laid out, that I sneak on here merely to browse! Maybe you should go into retail as a side project. One of THE best parts of every post is your way with pictures, photos, all of that, and the captions you sometimes put to them. I end up on the floor laughing, which is infinitely enjoyable and gratifying.

    Because I have zero problem with discipline, habits, and parsing-out of my time, I rather assume I just have no interest in writing — because that’s not a habit I have any interest in generating such as you do, and do so well. As you probably already know, if I have actual resistance to doing something, chances are it’s for a good reason. One obviously has to look closely in the mirror if there’s a question about a particular thought or action; but when the light is green, I’ll-be-darn, I’m there. When it’s red, it ain’t happenin’.

    Just thinking out loud here, Joel, don’t mind me!

    Keep up your priceless work here!!!


  3. You’re one of the people I write for, Lynelle; not because you need it, but because you keep me on my toes and nudge me to think and write clearly. It’s symbiosis!

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