A seed of emptiness is planted when you try to achieve what you can track, monitor, or chart. Setting a number goal ensures unhappiness after that mark is reached.
Common sense tells you to track things. In fact, it’s the Western way. Take a look at business, where you must track numbers to measure growth. Take a look at personal finance, where you must accumulate ever-increasing assets, measured exclusively in monetary amounts. Take a look at sex, where we track notches to measure our masculinity. Take a look at travel, where we count the number of countries we’ve been to as a measure of our worldliness and experience.
We set a numerical goal related to one of our interests and work hard until we reach it. What immediately follows? A nice high, a feeling of achievement, a sense of pride. It lasts an hour, a day, or even a week. And then? Emptiness. A feeling of being lost, of needing a new metric to measure our lives with. We set a new goal which is just an extension of the old one, not because it’s what we truly desire, but because we’re idle and bored, confused about what we want. Most men today are not trying to achieve dreams from within but instead are pursuing arbitrary metrics to distract themselves from existence.
We set goals that involve numbers only because they can be tracked and compared. It’s a manifestation of insecurity, of wanting to be important and better than someone else. Your ego loves numerical goals because it needs something measurable to feel it’s attached to a somebody, but it will not urge you to rest once you succeed. Instead, it will tell you that what you accomplished was not enough and that you must aim higher, even if that aim will produce little benefit. It will point out the man who has more than you, convincing you that you must exceed him. And then it will reach the new goal and simply find yet another man who achieved more, so that you are eternally on the achievement treadmill that keeps you occupied with the equivalent of make-work.
The initial intention of goals are often pure. A man wants to earn $100,000 a year to feel secure, but once he reaches that goal, which will certainly coincide with lifestyle and spending creep, it is no longer enough. He must set a new goal of $200,000 to feel secure, and the pattern repeats. As much money as he makes, he may feel no more secure than a poor man who lives from one paycheck to the next. Another man wants to bang 30 girls to feel like he has skill with women. He gets to that number, hears stories of men banging that many girls in one month in Thailand, and then decides he wants to hit 100 girls. On his quest to that goal he meets many men who have hundreds more notches, so now it becomes hard to stop. He will feel no more sure of his masculinity than a man with one notch from a girlfriend who loves him unconditionally. The cycle of goal setting, goal achievement, and goal extension repeats. The initial intention of the goal is completely lost.
Lack of goal setting is seen as heretical. It’s hippy. It’s underachieving. It’s anti-American. Yet your mind doesn’t care if arbitrary numbers are reached. Your mind sees no importance in hitting 100 notches, 1000 notches, $1 million in wealth. Your ego cares, but your ego can never be sated—it will simply demand more. Your journey for notches or wealth will keep you busy, make you highly skilled in one particular area of life, and give you a two day high upon reaching the newest achievement, but no more. Achievement, like anything else, passes a point of diminishing return, where little was gained from your efforts. What did you miss while chasing the goal? What was the cost? There are a hundred books about setting goals, but not one written on the goal hangover that always results.
Your mind only cares about the journey. It cares about how you live and what you do every day of your life. It cares only about this moment, not one in the future that satisfies an artificial construction that was likely created from feelings of envy, jealousy, or insecurity. If you’re pursuing something you truly want, a goal wouldn’t be necessary—you would already be doing it every day. If you have to set a goal to make money, that means you don’t care for business and made the goal to act as motivation. If you have to set a goal to get notches, that means you don’t care for being a player but need the number to push you to approach hundreds of women. What would you do every day if you couldn’t set goals? This is what you should do, for the sake of doing it, not for the sake of achievement. Through the use of our goal culture, we reduce ourselves to children who complete little tasks to receive a star sticker.
Now what I say is not an excuse to be a fat ass who doesn’t set a goal to be fit. The fat condition is a result of excess and sloth. It’s not an excuse to be a virgin at 40-years-old. The virgin condition is a result of fear and laziness. It’s not an excuse to be a feminist who wants to criminalize male behavior, a condition of intolerance and ignorance. One one hand you have conditions with no virtue while on the other you have neverending goal seeking and an addiction to achievement. I advocate for the middle path, of having virtue and character that is balanced with your true needs, not random ones.
I like to learn, so I read daily. I like to share my experiences, so I write daily. I like to laugh, so I spend time with funny people. I like to drink in cafes, so I do so. I like mini-relationships with foreign girls who are free-spirited and innocent, so I will seek out these girls when I’m horny, making just enough money to live in the countries they tend to gather, working out just enough so that I’m attractive to them. There are no numbers, no goals. I perform work and labor in just enough dosage to fulfill my wants and desires. If I earn enough money to have sex with my type of girl while reading and going to coffee shops, I will not perform one additional hour of work outside of my interests. I will walk through a park or study a language instead. I will not accumulate resources unless those resources are needed. I will not sleep with a girl unless it’s to fulfill a horny or amorous need. I will only set an arbitrary goal if I want an arbitrary life.
Pursue activities for passion, for desire, for their own sake, without depending on numbers and metrics. No reward should be needed, because the journey is the reward, the daily struggle is the fruit, the work is the benefit, the free mind, unburdered by goal chasing, is the great achievement.
Read Next: The Argument Against Chasing Happiness