This was originally published in my free weekly newsletter, How It Actually Works.
A friend of mine recently sold some of his ownership in his startup. He’s a family man & had loans on a few of his cars, so the first thing he did with his money was pay off the loans.
He could have made the final payment online of course. But instead, to celebrate he drove to each of the banks & paid in person.
Friend: “Hi I’d like to pay off my car loan”
Teller: Not an every day occurrence so doesn’t understand Of course sir let me look up what your payment is this month.
F: Oh, actually I’d just like to pay off the entire balance.
T: Ah well then, let me look up how much that is…. you’ll need to pay $XX,XXX.
F: Great, thanks. writes 5 figure check, hands to teller, walks out of bank with 1 less debt to worry about. Goes to a 2nd bank and repeats
Of course this felt good to my friend, but why?
His material life had changed ZERO.
He still owned the same cars, in the same condition, and yet it was such a significant event that he wanted to physically experience it in person.
He even took his son.
Goals are overrated. Not because they aren’t important but because they’re marketed as destinations.
Let’s say you want to start a successful business & become rich.
You’ll quickly find that a million annoying & seemingly irrelevant things get in your way. Customers ignore you. You can’t hire anyone. Things break.
And the whole time you’re thinking “why can’t things just work out so I can get back to building my company!”
The problem is you’re seeing the goal as a destination in the future when really a goal is a path.
A goal is a selection of problems you’ve chosen to overcome in order to give meaning & purpose to your life.
This paradigm helps in myriad ways. When we no longer view goals as destinations pain becomes a meaningful part of the path instead of being an obstacle that gets in the way.
Pain can then be expected & embraced, not scary & averted.
How you obtain an asset changes what it means to you.
For example, why is it so much cooler to drive an expensive car you purchased than a similar car that was given to you?
Because you earned it.
Because you sacrificed & took risks. You worked when others were having fun.
And it’s this – overcoming problems, sacrificing for a greater cause, working with others – that gives our lives meaning.
Because my friend paying off his debt, or you buying your dream home… those are just physical representations of what you’ve accomplished, not the accomplishment itself.
And the pain you endure to get there is what makes the goal worth doing in the first place.
Then consider signing up for my newsletter, How It Actually Works. It contains the best material I find anywhere – this means books, articles, podcasts, research, videos, Twitter threads... the most interesting stuff that will give you something to say.1,000s of Silicon Valley executives, investors, and leaders read it every week.