Goals are a pain

If goals weren't such a pain, maybe we'd achieve more.

Recently, to get out of my head in lockdown, I picked my bass guitar up to play. It had been over 7 years since I’d practiced in any reasonable way. Up until then, I had spent about 3 to 4 years learning. I’d had the idea (you might call it a goal) to have a big party for my 50th birthday and I’d play my bass. Plans changed, and the party never happened, I went to Burning Man instead and helped build a temple – admittedly it was another pretty cool way to celebrate my 50 times around the sun. My bass playing had already fallen by the wayside, and years before I knew I’d be heading to Black Rock City.

The 50th Party bass solo was a “goal” I’d avoided setting, let alone committed to. The people I’d told the idea to could have been counted on the fingers I use to type on one hand (& I can’t touch type). The thing is, if I had committed to that goal I would have had to practice harder. I would have had to ensure my playing was up to playing in public. It’s a pain. What if I’d missed my goal?

Goals put you on the hook.

It’s seldom pleasant being on the hook and it’s why we often avoid it. It can be scary setting ourselves a goal. We’re committing to something we might not achieve. It’s a far easier life not having a goal and especially not having a public commitment. It allows us to play around, do what we want and stay in our comfort zone.

If I’d set myself a goal to play at my 50th, and committed to it, it’s likely I wouldn’t be spending this week fumbling my scales and arpeggios.


Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels [edited]

Hi! I’m Michael

I’m an architect and coach. I help architects rethink their practice and support them as they uncover better ways to work. I’ve worked in architecture for over 25 years, and I ran my own practice for 14 years. I understand architectural practice from the inside out. Fun Fact: my NSW architect’s registration is #10 007 and I have a license to skill.

I believe improving practice takes asking hard questions and deep listening.

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