Why Goal Setting is Wrong and How to Fix it

3 Common Pitfalls of Goal Setting and 1 Practice to Do Instead

Debby Germino
9 min readSep 23, 2018


by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Most of us think of goal setting as a productive way of finding success, happiness, and a fulfilling life. There is an abundance of research, techniques, and literature written on the topic ranging from exactly how to set goals to the best method to attain them. In our success-driven society, goal attainment is a lucrative business. There are dozens of planners, worksheets, coaches, online courses, books and articles promising to help you achieve your goals faster than you imagined.

But what happens when goal setting works against you?

I recently heard an interview with entrepreneur, Jason Fried on the Tim Ferriss podcast talk about how he has stopped setting goals for himself.

He starts off by quoting Thomas Jefferson,

“Comparison is the death of joy.”

He continues to talk about how he stopped setting goals for himself and for his company, Basecamp. He says,

For me, I don’t want to compare myself to an idea I had two years prior of where I wanted to be. I don’t know where I’m going to want to be in two years. So, to set a goal that’s long-term, in some cases you’re actually setting it for who you are when you set it versus who you are when you’re going to get there.

He explains it further with this example,

I would hate, for example, let’s say the company [Basecamp], we were expected to grow 22 percent next year. I’m making up numbers here, right? And we grew 21. That would be a reason in a lot of companies to be upset. That is a ridiculous reason to be upset. Why would I ever want to be upset with that? But when you set out these numbers and these goalposts and these goals and these expectations and you don’t hit them, then you’re upset. And once you’ve actually either hit them or not hit them, then you come up with another set.

You just keep moving these moments of possible joy…



Debby Germino

Happiness & Health Improvement Junkie, Meditator, Yogi, Triathlete, Film & TV Editor, Writer/Blogger