Why Your Goals Don’t Work

I wear glasses which means that everyday when I wake up, I choose when to take on the world with full vision. I like to think of the time between waking and putting on my glasses as a transitional space where I can ease into the day. (though mostly I use this framing to not be uber jealous of folks with perfect eyesight)

It’s a nice mental framing, but it has limitations. I can’t drive a car without clarity of vision. I can move around my house comfortably, but I can’t do much outside my comfort zone without those glasses. 

Clarity is vital to a multi-passionate person’s journey. It can provide motivation through difficult periods as well as be a roadmap through external uncertainty. 

This post and the next will discuss the importance of clarity for polymaths and actionable ways to achieve it.

There are two types of clarity relevant to multi-passionate folks: Clarity of Intention and Clarity of Connection. We’ll focus primarily on Clarity of Intention. 

Intentions vs Goals

Goals are the manner in which you express your intentions (the how). Goals are an outward aesthetic, and can be often corrupted by shiny object syndrome. 

Intentions are a combination of the why and the what. What exactly is the impact or result you are trying to accomplish and why is it important to you? 

 Let’s look at an example. Goal: I want to be named Forbes 30 under 30. Let’s dig deeper into why that is. What do I think F30U30 will accomplish for me? What is the deeper desire behind the label? Intention: Have my work (and self worth?) validated as well as grow my impact via a large global audience. 

What’s happening there is that I’m conflating this specific accolade (F30U30) with validation of my work. Nobody needs an award to validate their effort, we can all validate ourselves AND get validated by the people that we help. 

It’s so easy to get lost in external markers of ‘success’ and completely miss the multitude of ways you could achieve your intention. 

Lessons From an Award Winning Entrepreneur

On my podcast, Lisa Nicole Bell mentioned that she curated a book with stories from 50 of the most successful women on the planet. Her intent was to help young women see that no dream is too big and get practical advice from highly successful women. Lisa knew she could have marketed really hard and become a best selling author, but it wouldn’t be likely that teenage girls would be getting the book. 

Instead, she decided to sell 50,000 copies in bulk to schools around the country. Her intent was to impact high school age girls first and foremost, so she made sure that the intention was served, rather than her ego. 

Now I’m not saying your intent can’t be to be a best selling author, but it’s worth investigating if you’re conflating labels with a deeper purpose. 


To recap, goals are merely a vehicle for your intentions! If you start with goals first, you’ll find yourself looking at a narrow set of options to define success that often reduce to vanity metrics. Whereas leading with intentions can help you navigate the noise in unique ways that satisfy your mission and create an impact. 

A question for you: What do you actually want?

Next week, we’ll talk about how you can clarify your intentions and then translate them to goals that work for you!


My conversation with Nadeige Archin (who made my podcast cover art <3) about creating space to think so she could find her purpose. She took a leap of faith and transitioned away from being a nurse practitioner to creating healing art. 

Overcoming Fear Helped Her Quit the 9 to 5 with Dayz Terry – this week’s episode!

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