Goals vs. Promises

I’ve been enjoying listening to a bunch of different podcasts outside my normal wheelhouse lately.Still on business topics, mostly, but on a variety of different ones I haven’t learned as much about in the past - real estate wholesaling & investing, stock market investing, private equity, e-commerce, private labeling, etc...It’s interesting to learn about the different types of businesses, and really insightful to see where the common themes lay across the different models.There’s plenty to explore there (plenty of content for future posts…) but today I just felt like quickly sharing an interesting thought from one of the shows - the Invested: Rule #1 Podcast by father/daughter duo Phil and Danielle Town.This really tickled my brain.In InvestED: 27 - "Dharma and Being Mindful About Money", Phil shares a story about his early days in investing, and explained that he made the promise to himself that he’d work real hard on investing for 5 years, and that he’d make a million dollars doing it.He went on to make a really interesting point about Goals vs Promises that I’d never considered before.

I think there’s a lot of power to that idea that you promise yourself something as opposed to setting a goal.[talking to Danielle, his daughter and co-host] ...If some guy comes up and gets on his knees in front of you and says ‘hey Danielle, I really want you to be my wife, and it’s my goal that I’ll never sleep with anybody for the rest of my life…' that would not make me happy.I’d be like, ‘Forget that bozo! He’s supposed to promise!'...That’s the big difference between a goal and a promise, don’t you think?A goal is sort of like an intention, and just the having of it, kind of lets you off the hook, a little bit, I think.You don’t have to perform on a goal.We all have these intentions to be in great shape and to have this great diet and eat properly and to sleep 8-9 hours a night and get to bed early and on and on… we have all these intentions, and almost the fact of having the intention, dilutes it.… there’s a much more potent level of commitment when you say 'I’m promising that I will do X', rather than 'it’s my goal.'… I’m not putting down goals, I don’t mean to put them down. I’m just saying that they’re a lesser power in your psychology and the way your mind reacts to something.

He goes on to explain that for him, a promise puts your character - who you are - on the line. Not fulfilling on a promise is a character flaw.That’s interesting, right?I’m a big goal setter, and like almost everyone else I guess I’ve always looked at goals as sort of like THE pillars in a strong and productive career and life.I’d never really been tasked to consider how goals stack up against promises.I guess the point I’d add is that, you know, they’re not mutually exclusive. They’re different tools for different jobs, and should be used accordingly.Some jobs require tweezers, other jobs require sledgehammers, so you can’t just go around sledgehammering things left and right.There’s a time and place for goals, but to Phil’s point - when you really commit to something, when you really need something to happen - think about putting it all on the line with the promise, and what the implications of that will be.

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