The beauty of asking a simple question.
Sunday, February 24, 2019, 7:56 AM
“What is the goal?”
TL:DR — We know successful people ask the question, but every individual should ask the question. More importantly, don’t just ask the question on a macro level, spend some time asking the question on a micro level to break bad habits, build new habits, and create amazing experiences.
Such a simple question, but a question that can lead to some of the greatest experiences life has to offer. “What is the goal” is probably one of the most powerful questions we can ask as humans, and sadly in my experience, people rarely do and when they do, they do it for the wrong reasons.
Let’s start with the obvious: Asking “What is the goal?” is normal for certain sectors of society, especially those sectors where people are trying to perform at their best.
Corporations It’s a question that has found itself at the pinnacle of every corporation. It’s the question every successful company has ever asked before it starts and continues to ask as it grows. It’s the question almost every successful marketing campaign asks before it’s ever built. It’s the question every successful sales department asks before they start selling. Knowing the goal gives the companies a heading, a heading is needed in order to get where you want to go. Every department in a company has a set of goals.
Creatives The super successful creatives ask “What Is The Goal?” For actors it could be “what emotion do I want to portray for my character”, “What do I want the audience to feel”. The same being true for both artists and musicians. Yes, there are moments when they need to create simply because they are drawn to the very act of creation. But at the same time, the super-successful we use that need to create to create something for a purpose. That purpose is the goal.
Athletes This beautiful question is not only limited to corporations and creatives but it also plays a huge roll for athletes. Every successful athlete has asked “what is the goal”: Ray Lewis, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, Lebron James, Brian Shaw, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rich Froning, Matt Frasier, Connor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Serena & Venus Williams, Alex Morgan, Lindsey Vonn, Danica Patrick, literally any super successful athlete has at one point or another asked “What Is The Goal”, it does not matter what sport or what country.
https://www.inc.com/david-van-rooy/how-tom-brady-uses-goal-setting-to-achieve-success.html https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/20/michael-phelps-stratgy-for-reaching-his-goals.html https://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/10/cleveland-cavaliers-lebron-james-one-remaining-goal-free-throw-shooting-elbow-injury-improved-shooting
Entrepreneurs Every successful entrepreneur asks “What Is The Goal?” and for most there is a lot more than one. If you were to call up Gary V, Tim Ferriss, Andy Frisella, Rob Bailey, Eric Casaburi, and the literal thousands of other successful entrepreneurs around the world, they would definitely all have goal. It’s an essential and it’s the foundation upon which their entire being is poured upon.
Every super successful person has a macro level goal.
If all of these super successful companies, teams, creatives, athletes, and individuals ask the question and are getting results from it — wouldn’t it make sense for us (as individuals) to start asking the question too? Well… we do… sort of…kind of — when the New Year rolls around. They’re called New Year’s Resolutions. Now New Year’s Resolutions are fine, asking yourself “What is the goal” once a year is better than not asking at all,
The Internal vs External battle of “What Is The Goal?”
but I do have an issue with it. New Year’s Resolutions are started externally. What do I mean? New Year’s Resolutions for most people start in the external realm, they are created because people know the New Year is coming and they want to start a new chapter for that very reason. Society says, new chapters should start on “Monday”, or “My Birthday”, or “The New Year”, “The New Job” etc. So with the New Year Coming, people will be asking what your resolutions are and it encourages you to either have a response ready for them or give a minimal answer as you think about what they should be.
But if you were to take a New Year’s resolution and start it on an internal level, that makes it more powerful because what you’re essentially doing is taking back the control of the question . It’s no longer society imposing you to ask “What Is The Goal” — it is you asking yourself “What Is The Goal?”.
If asking a question starts externally, that’s fine. If asking a question starts internally, that’s powerful.
If it’s been proven that asking the question can have a huge impact on improving, why don’t we ask it more. I think we ask the question a pretty decent amount for the macro-level, what is your 5 year goal, what is the goal post high school, what is the goal post-college, what is the goal with your fitness training, what is the goal for retirement, what is the goal for your professional career, I’m certain we have almost all asked that question at one point in our lives. Again, I consider these Macro-Level questions, because we have asked these questions before, asking more macro questions can be helpful but there is something even more helpful than that.
Macro level goals are good and important for the successes of society, asking them more often can improve yourself. But we must look at the other end of the spectrum as humans.
What is the goal on a micro-level. For real, on the smallest scale, why are you doing what you are doing. Why are you doing what you are doing on a day by day basis, hour by hour basis, minute by minute basis.
A micro-level question is so powerful because it complete changes the context of what is happening. So “What Is The Goal” on a micro level looks something like this:
1. What is the goal of the day?
2. What is the goal for putting on the clothes I’m putting on?
3. What is the goal with the food I am eating?
4. What is the goal of the exercises I am doing?
5. What is the goal of this phone call I am about to receive or make?
6. What is the goal of this e-mail I’m going to send?
7. What is the goal of this text I am sending?
8. What is the goal of checking on Facebook?
9. What is the goal of this Instagram scrolling as I sit on the toilet?
What Is The Goal?
By asking this question, you change the context of every scenario. It’s one of the reasons why 1 person scrolling through Instagram will be successful in 5 years while the other won’t be. The first person might set the goal to be “connect with 3 people, comment on 5 posts, and discover a new page to follow”, the second person probably doesn’t have a goal at all, they’re just scrolling for the sake of scrolling because they are looking for that dopamine hit that social media delivers.
“What Is The Goal” helps break out of the “day-to-day” mindset where you’re just doing things without realizing why you’re doing them.
Because we are looking at a micro level, we can essentially apply this thought process to everything, and sometimes we should! Asking this simple question can reveal to you the bad habits you picked up over the years, it can reveal to you that what you’re doing is not serving your macro-level goals and wants at all.
So, my challenge to you is to take one day, and ask “What is the goal” before every single thing that you do. What is the goal for getting out of bed? What is the goal for taking a shower? What is the goal for going to the bathroom? What is the goal for eating breakfast? It might seem like really silly stuff, but by building up the momentum of asking yourself it will help you carry yourself through the day.
Tip: If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know how to phrase the “What Is The Goal” question. Try asking: “Why this”, as in: Why do I own these shoes?, Why do I take the subway to work, why am I (insert emotion).
After you have those answers, than you can proceed to ask the goal question. I own the shoes because they look good and they’re comfortable to wear, the goal of wearing them is to feel confident about myself while I put in work without being distracted by the fact that I don’t like the shoes I have on.
I take the subway to work because it’s cheaper than owning a car, it’s convenient, and it permits me to focus on something else besides transport. The goal of taking the subway to work is to use the time to network, really submerse myself in a good book, meditate so I am in the right headspace for the rest of the day.
I am frustrated because nothing is working out in my favor at work today, everything that could go wrong went wrong. The goal of being frustrated is to build a system that prevents further frustrations from happening, how can I have contingencies in place where the next time this happens it won’t make me want to scream at the top of my lungs?
Now, the objective should be to eventually feed your subconscious this question because to spend x amount of time asking yourself what is the goal is a terrible use of brain resources. But to start, it might be in your best interests to ask it more often than not.
“what is the goal of getting off the couch” simple answer “to go to the bathroom”, “what is the goal of going to the bathroom”, pretend you’re that 7 year old, the one that keeps asking “why”, and you’re going to find that this can become a never ending question.
The goal should be “What is the goal” until asking the goal is no longer necessary, it just becomes second nature for us.
Creating amazing experiences and personal growth in the real world.
Growing up I asked The Goal question when society told me to ask the question: “What is the goal after high school”?, “after college?”, “what is the goal for your career”, “what is the goal for the next 5 years”. All macro-level, which are definitely good, but what really empowered me was when I took the question and started asking it to myself. To be honest, it probably led to more amazing experiences in my life than anything else. I started asking it on a micro level which was hugely helpful for finding bad habits and installing new ones. In addition to that, it helped create some of the most amazing moments and revelations in my life.
I discovered that “What Is The Goal” is an amazing question to ask for activities that lie between the Micro and Macro scales. For example:
What is the goal of going up to the Adirondacks?
Back when I was living in New York City, I would catch a train from Penn Station up to the Adirondacks 2 or 3 times a year. The first time I went, I did not ask the question, simply because I was reading and did not think to ask it. But the next time I went I asked “What is the goal of going to the Adirondacks?”. My brain responded: To see one my best friends, to go on an amazing adventure, and to appreciate nature. Well, “what is the goal of each of those answers” my brain asked. The goal of seeing one of my best friends, is to exchange energy, get amped about life, and to create awesome memories. The goal of going on an amazing adventure is to invigorate myself, break out of the city routine, and be creative with where the adventure takes us. The goal of appreciating nature is to relax my mind, find my breathe and enjoy the beauty of earth.
What’s important about this: the first time I went up, I definitely was more amped and the adventure was more amazing. But, looking back I feel that I just went-through that experience. The next time I went up, the time I asked the question, even though the energy wasn’t as high and the adventure was a touch more mellow, I felt like I actually “lived through” that experience and still feel that way to this day.
2. What is the goal of going on this date?
The first time I asked “What is the goal of going on this date?” opened a whole new world for me. Asking this question created so many amazing answers. I found that my goal for going on the date was to learn about who I was on the date with, I discovered I genuinely enjoy learning about others. Asking “What Is The Goal” helped me ask more amazing questions!
I not only wanted to learn surface level, I wanted to learn the real paradigms and systems that are built in a person and to do that, I needed to ask better question. Now asking certain questions can definitely be intimidating but if the goal is to learn about a person truly, I was going to have to ask them. What did that mean?
That meant I needed to find a way to be more playful and fun to ensure that my date was not going to be intimidated and scared by my asking. I also learned that if The Goal was to learn about someone than the typical “Dinner & Movie” date was a horrible option for me, I needed to be more creative than that.
3. What is the goal of going home?
I went home for college breaks and I went home for the Holidays. But I will never forget the first time I asked the question “What is the goal of going home?” I would say that one question solidified the importance of asking the question in my mind forever.
By asking, my mind answered: to show my family I love them, to enjoy the comforting atmosphere of being home, to have those serendipitous moments where I run in to old friends at bar and around town, and to reflect on how much I have grown.
If The Goal of going home is to show my family I love them, how could I prepare or show them I love them? Instead of winging-it, prepare to spend time with them, prepare to talk about things you know they enjoy talking about. If the goal of going home is to enjoy the atmosphere of being home, than prepare yourself to enjoy the experience.
If the goal is to run into old friends, make sure that you go out when your home, or maybe even try reaching out to them, if the goal is to take time to appreciate how much you’ve grown as a person, then prepare and set time aside to do just that.
These are just some of the hundreds of times that stand out in my mind where asking What Is The Goal really impacted me. Asking pays dividends in perpetuity, looking back at times when I asked the question, I realized something monumental that will stay with me:
On a Macro-Level, asking “What Is The Goal?” helped me accomplish so many of my societal goals and I look forward to it continuing to help me accomplish more. On a Micro-Level asking “What Is The Goal?” makes me feel like I actually lived through that time in my life instead of just existed and experienced that time in my life.
On a macro-level and on a micro-level there really is 1-unifying feature of “What Is The Goal?” — the goal is to be happy.