My Goals Don’t Care

At the Gym When looking in from the outside on people who are successful (or who you take to be more successful than you), there’s a real risk that you might believe that it’s “easy for him” (or her). You might accidentally think that “well, they have all kinds of willpower.” You might believe “Well, they started out like me, but now every day is smooth sailing.”

Just like anyone else, I have days where attaining my goals is a struggle and a challenge. One difference between me and some folks is that I’ve worked very hard to translate my larger goals into a daily process. Because of this, I stay very intimately attached to how each day relates to my goals. You should know this, as well, though. My goals don’t care.

My Goals Don’t Care

  • My goals don’t care if I really would like a slice of pizza.
  • My goals don’t care if calling people on the phone to ask them for a sale is uncomfortable.
  • My goals don’t care that I didn’t get enough sleep last night (that was my choice, or it couldn’t be avoided).
  • My goals don’t care that I woke up in a bad mood and I’m saying lots of bad things to myself on repeat, like a chorus of evil.
  • My goals don’t care that someone brought in cookies.
  • My goals don’t care that someone is on the treadmill I prefer to use.
  • My goals don’t care that I forgot my headphones at home.
  • My goals don’t care that Game of Thrones is on.
  • My goals don’t care that no one said “good job” to me today.
  • My goals don’t care that I almost met the income goal this month. (Almost isn’t all that useful.)
  • My goals don’t care that my kid puked so I had to pick him up from school, so there went my AM cardio and my day is super busy and…

Know who cares about that?

My excuses care about ALL of that!

  • My excuses love to tell me that it’s okay.
  • My excuses are thrilled when I miss the mark.
  • My excuses want me to know that I’m still a good person, and that I did good enough.
  • My excuses feel absolutely thrilled that I want to take a break.
  • My excuses know that I really did put good effort in.
  • My excuses say that six days in a row is really good.
  • My excuses know that there are only 24 hours in a day.

Excuses are awesome that way. Too bad I don’t allow for them any longer.

Which List Will Get You What You Say You Want?

I’ll tell you a weird truth: people often ask me what exactly I’m doing to get more healthy, or what I did to build my business. In almost 100% of the cases, when I answer, they lose interest. The answer, mostly, is in the work it requires to make the top list more prominent than the bottom list. And people just figure out quickly that they don’t want it that badly. Or so I’ve come to experience.

But that’s not everyone. Sometimes, people come along and really commit to this. They decide they’re ready to do what they say they will do, and they invest in the effort to do so.

Owners do that. Do you? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Raul Colon

    Your #noexcuses hashtag has really gotten into my head. Today I had a bunch of excuses not to run and skip the gym. Reading this helps me run through the scenario so I can make it tomorrow.

    Great set of lists in a way that speaks to everyone!

    • Chris Brogan

      But you can do it! Now. Today! : )

      • Raul Colon

        Gym closed its a holiday! Will go for a Walk like every day with the dog and Daniela!

        • Chris Brogan

          Precisely. Lift heavy things. Move. Etc.

  • Tiffany Winbush

    Great reminder, Chris. Thanks for the insight. The New Year is a great time to do way with excuses. It’s a challenge each day, but it’s definitely worth it!

    • Chris Brogan

      Every day is New Years.

  • Ken Kilpatrick

    Chris, this is the most well thought piece on goals I have seen. I think you may have topped Ziglar and Tracy.

    • Chris Brogan

      Do NOT go giving me a swollen head about that. : )

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  • Caelan Huntress

    Excuses are awesome. And insidious. They kick your goals in the crotch.

    And ‘almost’ only counts in horsehoes and hand grenades.

    • Chris Brogan

      We LET excuses kick our goals in the crotch. We have to invite them in. : )

  • Nikos Louvaris

    My goals don’t care that i read an interesting article, and wanted to comment on it…

    • Chris Brogan


  • MarketingArtfully

    It is SO much easier to let yourself off the hook with almost…the only problem is that almost is a downward spiral…almost did everything I said I would so I should schedule less next time….then almost hit that mark. I have a zero tolerance for myself on things I said I would do…just do it!!! LOVE the “saying lots of bad things to myself on repeat, like a chorus of evil.” bit!!!

    • Chris Brogan

      Almost is a jerk. That’s what I think. : )

  • Sean Cox

    Indeed. We often forget how much effort goes into succeeding at something, and then truly MASTERING it is on a completely different level. I’m really looking forward to the winter Olympics, not because I play any winter sports (other than some snow football and street hockey growing up in Wisconsin), but because I am constantly amazed at how stellar these athletes are. It inspires me to see the best of the best, and consider how many thousands of hours went into practicing–sometimes “thousands” of hours for just one technique!

    • Chris Brogan

      But there are two ways to use those sports: 1 is to live through their experiences as if you had them yourselves, and 2 is to use them as fuel to get to your best level, even if that’s not an Olympic level athlete (or even in sports at all). Which will you choose?

      • Sean Cox

        Option #2, DUH! ;)
        What I meant by “inspire” is=by seeing the best, I want to BE the best, an “Olympian” in my corner of the world.

  • Milos

    One doesn’t have to search for excuses as they are always present. On the other hand, staying focused and committed requires work, determination and some sacrifices. Everything is possible once one decides that this is something THEY want, not others, at that moment it becomes even more attainable.

    One of my favorite quotes which relates to this is from great Nikola Tesla:

    “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine”

    • Chris Brogan

      Love that quote. A really great way to figure it all out simply. : )

  • Mary McD

    aw fudge! Just when I thought it was OK to blow off a healthy lunch and have a crappy one full of fat and salt, I read this post… and know I was just fooling myself. Off to have my Complete protein shake now, even though that is a full floor away and behind the evil fridge door…. on theupside, however, it IS Dutch Chocolate and very yummy!

    Thanks for reminding me to keep true to my goals!

    • Chris Brogan

      I love fat and salt. Very much. I just love seeing the belt loops tighten. :)

  • Mike Brogan

    My goals didn’t care when I took an unscheduled break to take a peek at Chris Brogan’s blog.

    I’m glad I did. This is a great post and my excuses will definitely be missing out tomorrow.

    • Chris Brogan


  • Kerra Bolton

    My excuses are very upset that I interrupted their late sushi lunch to read this post. Thanks Chris for the much-needed sucker punch.

    • Chris Brogan

      Sushi is delicious!

      • Kerra Bolton

        There is a great sushi/burger place here in Raleigh called Cowfish that has the best sushi. We’re working on getting a roll named after me.

        Chris, one of the things I appreciate about you is that you emphasize “doing the work” in the form of systems.

        How do you create an effective system for yourself? For example, when trying to lose weight, leaving your gym clothes out the night before is a great way to create a “no excuse zone.”

        I’m currently taking both your “Mastering the Digital Channel” and “Brave” courses, so feel free to direct me back there if I’ve missed something.

        Thanks so much!

  • Jelena13

    ” that badly” – it’s (almost) all about it
    If you don’t care, than you will not move right way , not hard enough.
    It’s up to us, to be sure and know what we really want for us, not because in someone elses eyes it’s succesfull and it’s right for us,
    We need to find it inside of us, and follow it , just to be honest with ourselves

    • Chris Brogan

      Amazing how often we all get stuck following someone else’s dreams. : )

  • Andrew Spoeth

    This is a refreshing way to look at it. Thank you.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thank YOU, Andrew. : )

  • Karen Friend Smith

    This is great Chris – definitely sharing this with our tribe this week. So right on. They say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, but in my experience, it’s almost always the small stuff that is the only stuff worth sweating.

    • Chris Brogan

      Precisely! And what’s wrong with sweat?

  • Szofia Jacobsson

    So true. I come across that all the time, people think that me appearing in media or other success is some sort of coincidence. It never is, for anyone. It’s people walking the extra mile.

    • Chris Brogan

      The extra mile is a pretty empty stretch of road. : )

  • Bradley Howard

    One of the tricks in life is to *enjoy the journey* that get you to your goals.
    If you want to lose weight, pick a sport (or a way of working out) which you enjoy.
    If you want to enjoy your job more, pick some training to enjoy your work more, or start a blog/ YouTube channel to show some thought leadership around your profession.
    It works in the literal sense too – transform your commute (if you can), and you’ll enjoy your work more. To prove this, ask almost anyone who cycles to work whether they enjoy their commute. Now ask the people who travel by train…

    • Chris Brogan

      Agreed. Make them a lifestyle and it’s not so annoying. : )

    • Yogendra Chavda

      True thing about losing weight example Bradley. Sometimes people have to find a way to do the job. traditional ways might don’t work all the time, so we need to use other way to get the same outcome. :)

  • Jeff Goins

    Sadly, I think this is true: “people just figure out quickly that they don’t want it that badly.”

    • Chris Brogan

      Wish it weren’t, but I’ve seen it SO many times.

  • Jeff Stephens

    It also probably doesn’t help that your goals are amplified by your large following. If you don’t achieve, more people than you probably care to know, will know. I congratulate you for being transparent and putting goals in front of your community. Hopefully they stand by you help you defeat the “excuses”. Good luck and keep doing what you are doing!

    • Chris Brogan

      I could care less about who sees me win and fail. You measure that one heart at a time, just like when you have no following. I’m doing this for me.

      • Jeff Stephens

        Well said, Chris.

  • Larry Wilson III

    Great post Chris. I like “They decide they’re ready to do what they say they will do, and they invest in the effort to do so.”

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Larry. : )

  • Karisa

    Love this! Thank you for the much needed reminder that your goals don’t work unless you do. Thanks Chris!

    • Chris Brogan

      Every day, Karisa. : )

  • Linda M. Lopeke

    As an owner, I can honestly say, “Yes, I do.” And, as a business coach, I fire all clients who don’t get this. (This may sound harsh but, really, why should I care about their businesses more than they do?)

    This was one of your best posts lately, Chris. I really liked it! The standard of accountability we hold ourselves to is one of the strongest predictors of our potential for success.

    • Chris Brogan

      I totally get it, Linda. If you are going to give it your all, you need someone who will meet you at that level when you coach or work with them.

  • Joey Kimsey

    I have never thought of it like that. I really think i need to sit down and access my goals better. Very good post.

    I love when people point out the subtle differences between succeeding and failing.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Joey. Failing’s never a problem. Fail all the time. I do. Just succeed more.

  • Katherine Bull

    I really like this post, Chris. Food for thought: I personally believe that there IS such a thing as “disciplined cutting yourself some slack.” Cutting yourself some slack, for me, is important because I can easily go to the “I didn’t make this goal so I’ve failed which means I’m a failure” place. That’s a really really bad place for me to be. That said, cutting yourself some slack can easily hop into the excuses category; this why I use the word “disciplined.” It takes practice to be disciplined while cutting yourself slack. For me, it works.

    • Chris Brogan

      I think that FAR too many people baby themselves far too much. Accept when you don’t get the wins, but do the work. We probably agree, but I see way too many people who cut themselves so much slack, the rope’s worthless.

      • Katherine Bull

        Oh, yes, we are most certainly in agreement. I wasn’t speaking to the rope being so long that it is a noose. I should have emphasized more strongly that this mindset is personal to my psyche; It was a LONG journey psychologically for me to stop the “you’re a bad person, Katherine, because you are behind on completing the goals you set out” spiral that affected my self-esteem and resulted in a depression. Is this an excuse you talk about?

        Yes, if one consistently refuses to take personal responsibility for not meeting a goal and then wonders why he/she isn’t successful AND is envious of others who DO the work no matter what crap is thrown at them. That’s not me.

        There’s this song by Gladys Knight from the 80′s called “Overnight Success” that I used to listen to every morning when I was in my first job. The line “You look at me and you think it’s been so easy. Things that you want, they should have been here yesterday. Well, that is not the way it happened. I worked hard for my respect.” I still listen to that song because it is so right on and so many people don’t get it.

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  • Stewart Rogers

    This is spot on Chris. As I always say to people, there’s no such thing as ‘willpower’; there just only choices – good choices or bad choices. If you want to succeed, work hard and make good choices.

    • Chris Brogan

      Willpower is the weakest muscle in the body. We can do much more. : )

  • Jon Anderson

    I am far to easy on myself but love this idea of thinking about it in terms of goals and excuses, and moving more things from excuses to goals. Thanks for the advice.

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  • Melissa

    So good to know that other people have the same struggles!

    I find it difficult as a home-based freelance writer with shockingly lazy tendencies to get my butt into gear when I’m not automatically feeling in the flow of things.

    I’ve noticed that if I ride fearlessly into battle on excuse filled mornings, the whole rest of the day is easier and far more productive.

    On days I don’t do this, I am severely confronted with the reality that allowing excuses to linger on is akin to hitting the self-destruct button!

  • Michael K

    Thanks Chris for this post! It’s very motivating and so true! Excuses are simply prettier coverups for uglier problems like laziness, procrastination, etc. They can be so easy to make that if we’re not careful, we won’t even realize how often we’re making them! Great insight! Thanks again for sharing!

  • KD McAdams

    Great timing on this, thank you!

    I think it takes about three weeks to form new habits. Right now I’m about two weeks into some new ones that are important to my goals. I totally want to take a break. But I know that I can’t. I need to keep working to make them habits and I have already decided that I need the habits to succeed.

    Time to get the day rolling and not let the excuses win.

  • Rishabh R. Dassani

    Great post, Chris.

    I think it comes down to one of two things:

    1. Emotion before logic = excuses we give ourselves, OR
    2. Logic before emotion = we do the work without overthinking

    • Jeff Haring

      Great points you made above!

  • Stan Dubin

    I agree with the entire list on what goals don’t care about…except the pizza one.

  • Takis Athanassiou

    Good Job, Chris, as usual…

    Goals, do not care, excuses are always in place (really, Chris, have you notice that sometimes we behave as an excuses production factories and try to propagate them to more people, thinking that if there are more of us with the same excuse, all of a sudden our excuse it becomes OK!), owners, though should care and be mindful of the larger picture. (btw I love your piece in owner’s magazine about What Is An Owner? – an excellent and well thought piece in my opinion!)

    Because of that, I would like to remind you that even when you have to move “against all odds” (as may seems at first), the rare days producing a good – for you – result (even though it may no be as tangible as you wish for!) are usually the best ones (even though might be the most hardest days to come through!).

    Thank you for the inspiration, Chris! Goal’s do not care but I (and you!) should care a lot about their achievement.

  • Ryan Lawrence

    True. people always give excuses.

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  • Yogendra Chavda

    Really well crafted article chris. People make goals and plans to achieve those goals but sticking to is little tuff (self experience :) )

    I am also on the same boat because i do make excuses myself (sometimes) but the primary goal is still the same which pushes me to practice more, exercise more to achieve it.

    Thanks again for the motivation.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks for being here to be part of it. : )

      Let’s see how many excuses we can starve.

  • Kelvin Dorsey

    Nice one Chris. Yep, some commit….most don’t. Being average won’t get the job done. Goals are real pricks like that. They’re demanding and don’t tolerate half- assed effort.

    • Chris Brogan

      Yep! Love your thoughts.

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  • stonealone

    A goal to me is my most dominant thought (most of the time) Just like a ‘junkie’ will always get his ‘fix’ (‘shot’ or whatever you want to call it) most days, however that maybe!

    • Chris Brogan

      Love that. Be a goal junkie.

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  • Nate Turner

    Great post Chris! Thanks for the challenge to overcome excuses today and push through to achieve goals. Looking forward to allowing my goals to drive my actions today.

  • Stephen Dixon

    This is definitely how I view my day-to-day. I’ve made it a priority in my day to set a block of time aside to work on my goals of learning JavaScript and by extension, Angular JS. This “goal” doesn’t care that I have a shit-load of work that I’m committed to and it’s remembering this that I’m able to remain focused on what my goal is. Block out the excuses and focus.

  • Nikki Groom

    I absolutely love and needed this today. Thanks, Chris. Sharing with a client now who coaches HER clients around this exact thing. Well said.

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  • Jane

    Nice article Chris..I am a procrastinator by nature , I turn to this post when I am about make an excuse and always find myself motivated by your post.

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  • cloudspark

    i was asked last week, why i, as a non-runner, run (i’m a rower by nature). it took more than a few minutes as i had to ponder an honest answer – and then i realized it was the effort and discipline to train for a race. if i want to complete a race, the miles won’t run themselves and certainly no one can them for me. so daily, i have to put in the effort, follow the training, if i want to finish that race. it’s much like your post, and much like most things in life that take effort – there is both effort and discipline required to get the result you want. best, jr @cloudspark

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