Pursue Your Goals Imperfectly

Treat Thompson



This is a republishing of Shoulders of Giants. Twice a month readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.

What we'll learn (in 2 minutes):

👨‍🏫 Topic: Why we need to pursue our goals messy and fast

🔍 Quote: James Clear on why ideas don’t matter

📜 Passage: Marcel Proust on forgetting your desires

Pursue Your Goals Imperfectly

When we set new goals they’re usually paired with a source of inspiration from someone we admire.

We want to start a YouTube channel and do it like our favourite creator. Or we want to lose weight and do it like our favourite influencer.

But that mindset makes it harder for us.

With new goals, your top priority should be starting. When you compare the beginning of your journey to an expert at their peak you trap yourself. Seeing their tools, resources, and skills will make you feel like you don’t have what you need. But what's optimal for them isn’t required for you to get started. Their setup is optimized for their level of success.

The best thing to do is give yourself the bare minimum necessary to start. Understand what is needed versus what is optimal.

Optimal vs. Necessary

It’s easy to become obsessed with what’s optimal. It’s a technique our brains use to keep us in our comfort zone. It convinces us we need new skills, gear, connections, etc. before we can take our first step towards the goal. That way we stay idle and won’t have to do any hard work.

If you are the kind of person who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time. It’s like waiting for all the traffic lights to be green for five miles before starting the trip. - Robert Kiyosaki

You don’t need new shoes to start running.

You don’t need a great logo to start a business.

You don’t need a new pan to start eating healthy.

You don’t need a perfect name to start a YouTube channel.

You don’t need a new backpack to start hiking.

You don’t need a nice website to start blogging.

You don’t need a great tablet to start animation.

You get the point. You don’t need anything more than what makes it physically possible to start.

You should start quick and messy, then correct course along the way. Keep in mind that you can improve something bad, but you can't improve something that doesn't exist.

A perfect plan will never take you anywhere on its own.

Featured Quote

If you're not working hard, ideas don’t matter. The best idea is worthless without execution. If you're already working hard, ideas are crucial. Most effort is wasted on mediocre ideas. - James Clear

If you’re not in motion and taking action then your ideas are irrelevant. Ideas only have value when they are brought to real life.

Featured Passage

We believe that we can change the things around us in accordance with our desires—we believe it because otherwise we can see no favourable outcome. We do not think of the outcome which generally comes to pass and is also favourable: we do not succeed in changing things in accordance with our desires, but gradually our desires change. The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant to us. We have failed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us beyond it, and then if we turn round to gaze into the distance of the past, we can barely see it, so imperceptible has it become. - Marcel Proust