Beware Of Goals With Numbers

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


  1. SEA_shadow August 5, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Lately you’ve been stating things that are mostly obvious, but they get a freshness and the force of authority because of where you came from.

    I never did much ego sex or chasing numbers, but if I’d blog about that it would be boring and lame. Any dullard could accuse me of sourgraping so I don’t bother.

    There is this quote form Dostoyevsky that captures it well. People can only do this if they’re strong enough to live with the consequences.

    “One’s free, untrammeled desires, one’s own whim (…) all of this is precisely that which fits no classification, and which is constantly knocking all systems and theories to hell. And where did our sages get the idea that man must have normal, virtuous desires? What man needs is only his own independent wishing, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.”

    Over the years you’ve mentioned Buddhisms a few times. If you actually pick up regular meditation you would see how deep this rabbit hole goes. The bummer is that it’s a terrible blogging subject.

  2. Amour Fou August 5, 2013 at 10:25 am

    A new book title: The Tao of Roosh

    The road of excess -does- lead to the palance of wisdom, apparently…

  3. Evan Cary August 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Awesome work Roosh! It’s great how you’re reaching a more spiritual level with your writing. Many guys see someone with a lot of notches and automatically lock on to that goal, with the clear assumption that it will bring happiness or satisfaction. I did it myself, and one day I realized that what I was doing with picking up women had become exactly like work… I had certain quotas I had to meet every week, every month, every year, and if time passed and I didn’t get the new notches I wanted, I was angry at myself. Yet no one was paying me to do this, and at this point I had had so much sex that I had to concentrate hard to get off with the latest girl, so even my orgasm became like a form of work!

    It’s all pretty silly. Now I don’t make any conscious attempt to use game – I just meet many women, and when I find one that I actually like, I put my attention on her and the game happens automatically, without any effort. And if I don’t feel like having sex, I’ll just wait until I’m actually horny.

    Any of us could go on forever amassing notches, until we reach a thousand or whatever. But if we had spent that same energy on something else, imagine what we could have done. Now I play guitar eight or ten hours a day, and the satisfaction I get from that is much greater than I would hitting on a random girl in the street.

    Anyway, keep up the great work! It means a lot more coming from someone like you, who has many notches and much game experience. No one can claim sour grapes in this case.

    All the players out there, with the effort it took to get 300 notches, could have become a master chef, an accomplished athlete, formed a rock band and released a couple albums, written a few novels, got a black belt in BJJ – all these things are so much more impressive to me than a few thousand brief orgasms with random girls achieved with mostly superficial chatter and logistical manipulation.

    Then again, if I was 18 all over again and had that sex drive back, I’d still go for the notches – pussy was worth more than gold to me for a few short years.

  4. memcpy August 5, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I stopped counting notches also. When you are on your own deathbed do you really want to know the final number ? If you do, then you will always wish that the number was higher.

  5. Jesse Myner August 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

    For most this philosophy will work well. But great creation and achievement are only born of excess and obsession.

    Nothing wrong with turning much of life into middle-ground, balanced hobbies.Just depends upon what you were genetically destined for and few are destined to become outliers, to affect history.

  6. Doug August 5, 2013 at 10:54 am

    The better books actually do talk about this problem with goals. I’m pretty sure Winning in Mind does. If you have a goal like winning a gold metal at the Olympics or a national championship and you actually achieve it, you’re screwed. It’s unhealthy for a person focused enough to achieve that to not have anything to work on and they get depressed. It’s important to already have a goal in place PAST the goal you’re working on, in a different area if necessary, so that if you achieve your main goal in life you immediately can switch gears.

  7. uncle August 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

    “What would you do every day if you couldn’t set goals?”

    when you say things like this one gets an impression that you take it for granted that everyone has the same opportunities in life. what if i like to dance ballet or philosophy or something else, but to pay the bills i had to get 2 jobs and work overtime every day? or if i’d like to travel but i was born in Bangladesh and probably won’t be able to save enough money for a bus ticket to the next village during this life? to be clear, numerical goals are very often motivated by the desire to pull oneself out of the shit pit, which you kind of said yourself when you said that the initial intention is often pure.

    Even Machiavelli had said that success is a combination of luck and preparation. since we can’t influence the luck, all we can do is prepare and that’s what the work towards achieving the numerical goals often is. when you do it like that, than you are not as likely to get bored so easily once you achieve the result, especially if there’s a risk that you can lose it all and get back to where you came from.

    [Roosh: You did not read carefully. I stated to work just enough to pursue your interests. If you have to work “overtime every day”, preventing you from reading philosophy, your problem isn’t money but your individual choices in employment/education/etc.]

  8. Phantom August 5, 2013 at 11:32 am

    The joy is in the voyage, not the destination.

    I’m liking a lot your new philosophical direction, Roosh. Makes me think a lot. Keep it coming.

  9. Days of Broken Arrows August 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I totally get where this post is coming from. If you read enough biographies of musical performers or business types, the one constant theme is that once these people hit their goal, it all comes toppling down. This is almost a Shakespearean poetry to the way this all plays out. Unfortunately, I didn’t see my own life as being part of all this, but looking back it started to unravel when I achieved a specific goal I’d wanted.

    I hate to be quoting Miley Cyrus on here, but her song “The Climb” sort of makes a good point. The problem is, often we don’t know how enjoyable the journey was until after we hit the goal.

  10. Joe Dick August 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    You can never judge people too quickly, you don’t know why that guy has been virgin until 40 or why the other guy is fat. There’s this dumb belief in this ‘culture’ that thinks that if one is a virgin, he must be a wimp, or too fearful, and all that bullshit.

    I myself am a late bloomer. I haven’t been virgin until I was 40, of course, and I have never been fat and lazy. But I wasn’t one of these guys who got their first lay at 14.

    My mind and dick were sound, and there was nothing wrong with me. If anything, I realized I fucked better than I ever would have imagined.

    The main problem has been my beliefs about women and how things worked, plus other obstacles too. The reality is that there is a lot of bullshit around. In books, movies, etc etc. No wonder that someone makes a connection with that bullshit, and reality.

    I have never been fat. But I imagine that changing your body from fat to slim isn’t exactly as easy as running a few times around the block. We are talking about changing your body. Or your mind. Or your life. In most cases, all three. Come on. This shit is hard.

    I am not saying that is acceptable for a woman or a man to stuff their faces, or to sit on their ass doing nothing all day, but you can’t judge too quickly. There’s people who eat and then vomit intentionally and they have done it so many times that the inside of their larynx got permanently damaged and burned because vomit contains acids that are meant to stay in the stomach.

    You really think they enjoy doing this shit? It’s like saying to chronic smokers ‘well, why don’t you just quit? Tsk tsk, you are just lazy’.

    Another problem is denial. For some people, the mind kinds of shuts down. Actually, I bet it happens with ALL people. Hell knows why, I have been aware of this very problem in my own life years ago. We all know how the mind rarely does anything in our favour. It’s like the fucking thing is there to create self-sabotage.

    If it was just a matter to approach a few bitches in a club, most guys would do it. Anyone can do that. I laugh when I read about all these braggers about how they had sex with this or that wasted bitch in a club.

    I would have done that too, if were not for the fact that I absolutely hated clubs, noise etc. To me they are probably the stupidest places on the planet. And the women in them, I liked even less.

    For me it’s been 60 per cent wrong beliefs and misconceptions about how things really work , and 40 per cent other stuff, including personal preferences that didn’t fit with the real, nasty, dirty crazy etc world.

  11. Joe Dick August 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    PS. I wasn’t saying that fear plays no role. Before I learned to approach women without giving much of a shit, yeah there was fear. But now I look back and I wonder how my mind had the power to blow it out of proportion.

    It’s just another bitch. No problem. Lol. They are all the same anyways, i.e. crazy

  12. Kieran August 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Interesting post Doug.

    I think a part of why achievement of goals leads to the feeling of anticlimax, is that people mistakenly believe that they will feel complete when they reach their goals, instead of simply using them as tools to help organise their time efficiently.

    I accept that I will never feel complete, and recognise that my goals will evolve after reaching them. However, I still use goals as a tool to focus my attention where it needs to be in order that I can do the things I want to do, and have the experiences that I want to have.

    For example I box for the love of the sport, but in order to experience competition at the level I want, I know I have to weigh a certain amount, have an RHR in a certain range, be capable of running 5km in a certain time etc. These numerical goals let me know when I’m in fighting shape, and without them, I wouldn’t know where to focus my attention.

    Applying numerical goals to human interactions however, doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

  13. James Marsh August 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Physiological studies by Daniel Khaneman have proved that there is the experiencing self and the memory self. Most people will put themselves through a lot misery at work in order to feel satisfied about their lives. Its about the ego. Check “Thinking Fast And Slow” Khanemans book

  14. Bullitt August 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Roosh, there’s actually quite a bit of research on this subject. Look up “Affective Forecasting” and “Impact Bias.”

  15. Vincent Vinturi August 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Roosh, I’m curious… What sparked your recent foray into spiritualism, if you want to call it that? You’ve been waxing Eastern with a lot of your posts lately and I’m interested to know if you’ve been reading/watching anything in particular that got you developing in this direction?


  16. Phil August 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm


    I hope this isn’t too nosy, but I’d really like to know:

    When you made the commitment to support yourself solely from selling your books, how much cash did you have saved up? I read “Dead Bat” where you mentioned how much cash you had saved when you quit your job and travelled through South America but I’m asking something different.

    The reason I ask is that I think a lot of men, myself included, want to support ourselves as you do, but starting is incredibly hard because we’re always wondering “Is my financial cushion large enough to support me until I have a good income stream coming in?”

    [Roosh: It was about $30k. There’s no way to know what is enough.]

  17. Joe August 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I don’t agree with a lot of what you write, but this is some good stuff.

  18. trs August 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I think what you’re talking about is the distinction between values and goals. A career value might be “Craft excellent and useful products without compromise.” A career goal might be “Net $275K in sales this year.”

    Goals are important but of distant secondary consideration to values. Too many things out of one’s control play in to achieving goals. It’s living by one’s values that brings peace and gratification; scoring the goals is mostly bonus.

    Some recommend you write down a carefully crafted set of values for a few domains of your life: Career; Love/Social; Leisure; Spiritual/Community.

  19. Ed Cefala August 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I approve of the numberless path for you. I want to be a daddy, so I need attorneys, magic marker funds, education funds and a big fat baby-proof house.

    To me it seems foreign to not want to sculpt a little werewolf out of the old genes.

  20. MrDDub August 5, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    This was some good stuff! I’ve always wondered why my professional achievements never really made me “happy” & still don’t but I never stopped to wonder why.

  21. Halpern August 5, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    In other words, no achievement is ever enough, so… don’t bother with achievement?

    This strikes me as distinctly similar-sounding to the argument of the man who had big dreams, didn’t reach them, and then proclaimed that big dreams are vanity and what life is really about is smelling the roses. Or did I misread somewhere?

    1. pup November 25, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      I don’t think this article means what you think it means. I think he’s saying why make your goal about a number. $1Million net worth shouldn’t be the goal. Money isn’t a goal in and of itself. What you can get/do with that money should be the goal. Bench pressing your bodyweight shouldn’t be the goal, looking/feeling like a healthy badass should be. Just my take.

  22. Jose' August 6, 2013 at 5:07 am


    If a guy in his early 30s wants to hunt 18-22 y/o non Amerifiend vajayjay what foreign locale would you do?

    Would the Polish chicks be down for some mature pounding?

  23. Raul Felix August 6, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Perfectly put. There is such a thing as too much. Numbers are not an end but rather a mean to measure your progress.

  24. anon1 August 6, 2013 at 8:11 am

    very interesting. in western technical speak i would say what you’re looking at is the minimum effective dose.

  25. Inside UoM August 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I love this new perspective Roosh, you’re really got some amazing wisdom in your writing now

  26. litte roosh August 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Someone once said life is a game of black and white. White is winning and black is losing and that there really is now way to not play the game and enjoy life but the trick is to play a “light” version. Play the game but detach from the outcome. Have goals and pursuits but don’t be burdened by them. I think you’re saying basically the same thing. It’s hard perpsective to maintain, even when you get it intellectually. But when truly embraced, makes life much more enjoyable!

  27. douglas August 6, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    looks like in this day and age alot of men will have more fee time to pursue their hobbies

  28. unkempt August 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s hard to see if you’re doing what you really want, or what you think you want, or if you don’t really care at all but are doing it anyway. Do you want to be a man who’s good with women, or a man who’s had sex with 100 women? Can you be one without being the other? Do you want to be a rich man, or a millionaire? Or do you really just want to be financially secure?

    It takes a lot of insight to distinguish between what you want and what your ego wants, and also to see if you’re really getting or already have what you want.

  29. Mark August 7, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Being yourself takes a lot of courage. I’ve met a countless people who claimed to value spontaneity and adventure, but most really don’t. While people love to wear the mantle of faux rebellion, they resent the real rebels who don’t conform. Once you don’t care what others think, your life truly becomes yours for the first time.

  30. Ninja man August 7, 2013 at 2:48 am

    This post smashes it. Some points hit me as it described me down to a T. The middle way is crucial… Great post!

  31. nguyenimproved August 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Can’t believe i missed this post.
    Teach on mr Roosh. Teach on!
    It speaks to the standards of today’s “media” and blogs that the best all round modern wisdom pieces are found on your gaming blog!

  32. garvan-the-mad August 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    This post has definitely made some important revelations for me.

    For the last while I had been wanting to up my “relationship success”, and I figured the best way to do that was to finally achieve 100 new lays and get what I had considered to be the 2nd dan of PUA-dom.

    Now at around 80, it’s just like… the number isn’t really fucking important or meaningful.

    The only thing I know for certain is that I want to live a life of passion.

  33. Mr darling August 15, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Loved this post. Makes a lot of sense to simply enjoy the journey, because in the end it’s all you’ve got.

    Funny that you used the word ‘virtue’ on this website though. Haha

  34. pup November 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Excellent post! Why make a fitness goal? I really don’t enjoy or care about fitness. I just want my wife to cream her pants when she sees me naked…How much I can bench press, or my measurements shouldn’t be the goal. Her wet vag is the goal. The journey is the workout, the destination is wet panties.

  35. Satan March 25, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    this is a good ass blog, sir

  36. Dirk Diggler May 1, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Numbers are a quantifiable way to chart progress.