October 21, 2017

Fuzzy Goals

Would you give me 99 cents if I gave you a penny?

That’s how most people live their life.

You’ve got clear goals, right?  You want to increase your income, or win a big race, or just finish a marathon this year.  Those are good goals.  Still, they won’t do you much good, even if you achieve them.

Clear goals with arrow and target.

Let’s imagine for a second you just hit your “money” goal.  Maybe it was a bonus from your boss.  Maybe you signed up that new account and the first commission check just came in, or maybe you built your business just a little bigger and gave yourself a raise. 

Imagine it for a bit.  Wallow in that feeling of winning.  Feels good, right?  Now imagine yourself a week after you hit that goal.  You’ve done the partying, you went out for the nice dinner, you’ve checked your account and gloated over the fatness of it.  Heck, maybe you ordered something big online and it just arrived.  What’s next?

The climb to a clear goal is followed by falling off the cliff.

Nothing.  See, you pinned the happiness of a big swath of your life onto a temporary achievement.  You gave away 99 cents to relish in the feeling of winning a penny.  You hit the goal, and now you’re wondering, “What’s next?”

I’ll tell you what’s next:  Set a fuzzy goal.

Fuzzy Goals

Fuzzy goals are ones that don’t have a number on ‘em.  Fuzzy goals are goals that no one but you knows if you hit it.  Fuzzy goals never really have an end point.  Once you enter the grey area of a fuzzy goal, your aim is to find the most enjoyable parts and stay in those currents of joy.

What’s a fuzzy goal?  Here’s one of mine:  Experience more deeply. 

No one in the world is going to know if I’m experiencing things more deeply, but as I begin to routinely hit that goal, my world will change more radically than any clear goal you can think of.  A million dollars.  Winning the Olympics.  Flying a paragliding line no one has ever flown.  None of those can hold a candle in terms of long term rewards to the fuzzy goal of “Experience more deeply.”

Now, I’m not saying to abandon your clear goals and re-write your life based entirely on fuzz.  My point here is that living only to achieve clear goals is a waste of the time you have on the planet.

Girl asks if clear goals don't work.

Most of us aim for these high points and focus all our time on achieving them.  Depending on the goal, we can spend 99% of the time trying to achieve it and only 1% of the time actually experiencing the achieving.  If we don’t remember to include fuzzy goals, we basically blow 99% of our time on the planet.

You’ve read about this scenario before: Girl sets goal.  Girl works hard.  Girl makes many sacrifices, puts forth all her effort, and in the time of reckoning, Girl wins.  Mission accomplished, press conference called.  Reporters ask, “Girl, what is your favorite memory about the achieving this goal?” 

Trust me:  Girl never answers, “When I actually achieved it.”  She always talks about the fuzz.

Girl talks about her favorite part of winning

Why not just include the fuzzy when you’re setting the clear?

I’m not saying never set or achieve a clear goal.  Clear goals are important, but they’re only a part of the equation, not the whole thing.  Living solely based on the achievement of clear goals is a profligate luxury, a throwing away of the majority of precious time you have in this existence.  Hey, Hunter S. Thompson agrees me on this one, so I'm pretty sure it's right.  

A pie chart showing the ratio of fuzzy to clear goals for a fully stoked life.

The beauty of it all is that you’ll have memories of the fuzz whether you spend time setting fuzzy goals or not.  The tragedy of not having fuzzy goals is you’ll miss lots of the experience itself, and have only the fragments of memory lucky enough to stick.

Take some time today and think about one or two fuzzy goals you’d like to hit over and over again for the next forty years.   If you want to lock ‘em in to your routine, write down your goals on little Post-It notes and put ‘em around the house.  Step into the fuzziness every chance you get, and start feeling your way to the best parts.

Good fuzzy goals to set.

As you do this, you’ll begin to realize just how enjoyable it is to have and daily achieve fuzzy goals.  When those clear goals are nailed, that peak “1 percent” moment will be backed by every available piece of experience you had along the way, and you’ll know that none of your time was wasted.

To a fuzzy, furious, and fantastic life, my friends!


Liked this article on fuzzy goals?  Here are a few more you might dig on living the most excellent Paleo life possible.

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

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