35: Means Goals vs End Goals

35: Means Goals vs End Goals

Do you ever have an unsatisfactory feeling after reaching your goals? Like there is something more to do, something bigger? Something more fulfilling?

Goals help us give direction and give us purpose for our lives. Accomplishing goals is associated with progress. These goals can be small or big but what we don’t usually consider are the types of goals. There are two types of goals:

  1. Means Goals
  2. End Goals

While most focus on means goals the real insight comes from aiming for end goals.

These goals are based on achieving something but end with a “so I can…”. For example going to school so I can get a degree, working at a job so I can have financial stability, I want a promotion so I can make more money. Means goals are focused on the right now and the next logical step.

If you focus on end goals that are feeling-based instead the pathways might be very different. The end goal becomes “I want to acquire as much knowledge as I can in my environment”, “I want to have freedom in my life”, “I want to be the best I can be in my environment”.

Changing it to look at it this way allows everything to become an inspiration for end goals. It takes the control back into something that is within your locus rather than something which depends on an external locus of control.

“You’ll have a growing freedom in all four key ways— time, money, relationship, and purpose. “Our eyes only see and our ears only hear what our brain is looking for.” - Who Not How by Dan Sullivan

So how can you figure out YOUR end goals? Here is an exercise that helps provide clarity.

The 5 Why’s Methodology

Sometimes you might not get to five but aim to ask as many “Why’s” to reach the feeling that is associated with an end goal.

Example #1

  • Asking for a promotion. Why?
  • More money. Why?
  • More travel. Why?
  • More thrill and adventure - the end goal.

Example #2

  • Getting a degree. Why?
  • So I can work in my chosen field. Why?
  • Gaining experience in the chosen field. Why?
  • Providing value to the world - the end goal.

Making the goal an end goal provides a purpose than just the means goal itself. It becomes based on optimizing for a certain feeling.

Don’t take me wrong, means goals are important as they should be used to get the end goals but not as the only ones to set.

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