You Need to Have a Goal. Or Do You?

Vasil Nedelchev
2 min readNov 5, 2023

“You need to have a goal.”
That’s what everyone seems to say.

A health goal.
A career goal.
A project goal.
A personal goal.

It’s in books written by experts. Influencers preach it in interviews. Science journals even support it. So, it must be true, right?

But when it comes to actually picking our own goals, things get tricky.

• We get paralyzed by analysis.
• We fear choosing the wrong path.
• Or, we pick something and then change it later.

I don’t know about you, but to me, focusing my energy on just one thing feels wrong.

It’s the fear of failure followed by harsh self-judgment.

We don’t want to disappoint those who rely on us. We don’t want to lose credibility in front of people we respect. We don’t want to realize that we might not be as good as we thought. It’s a lot of pressure to pick just one goal.

Having been there multiple times in my own life, I’ve put a lot of thought into how to solve this dilemma.

So, now when I get stuck like that, instead of picking one single dream goal, I do the reverse.

I choose multiple anti-goals.

Anti-goals are simply undesirable outcomes.
Instead of having a single flagpole on top of a mountain, I use anti-goals as guardrails on a challenging trail, keeping me from veering off the cliff.

So, next time you can’t pick a goal, try this:

List your anti-goals — all the things you don’t want to happen.
Use them as guardrails along the way until you have a clear view of your flagpole.

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Vasil Nedelchev

Product Designer. Writing about design beyond your day job. Get all my writing at designsolo.co