Stop Setting Goals + Do This Instead

Charly Hanx
3 min readJan 26, 2022

Plus: 21 Tips to Help You

Photo by Geio Tischler on Unsplash

Here’s how you excel at life:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Set smart 1-, 5- and 10-year goals
  3. Craft a clear path to achieve them.
  4. Never give up!

Sounds familiar?

Yeah, it’s bullshit. At least for me.

It sounds great in theory, but in reality, this always led to me endlessly agonizing about the “perfect goal”.

I turned 26 just recently. Ten years ago, I was a completely different person.

I spent the first half of my 20s trying to figure out who I want to be and what I want to do with the rest of my life.

In the meantime, I studied 4 different subjects at university and just finished med school; I moved three times, visited 12 countries, wrote a novel and several short stories, had about 8 different blogs and websites, did 51 online courses, met the love of my life, married him two years later (even though I didn’t even want a relationship in the beginning), bought an apartment, made a lot of music, read a lot of books, filled a tower of journals and I still have no fucking clue.

I learned a lot about myself: my likes and dislikes, what I want and don’t want to do, and what I really care about. I still have no idea where I want to be in ten years. I don’t even know who I’ll be in ten years.

Then I read two books: “Skip the Line” by James Altucher and “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” by David Epstein (and by “read” I mean I listened to them on Scribd). And as outstanding books do, they changed my way of thinking.

Now, I don’t believe you should set long-term goals anymore. Because the person who reaches the goal ten years from now, is not the person who set them, and she might not give a fuck about them.

Instead, I want to seize the opportunities that I have right now. I want to try new things, make short-term experiments and see what happens.

I don’t know who I am until I see what I do.

Sounds nice, right? But what if your life doesn’t provide you with a lot of interesting opportunities?

You’re lucky. Here are 21 ways to open up new opportunities in your life:

  • Talk to people. Be genuinely interested.
  • Try out new things. Go diving, visit a new country, take a detour on your way home, whatever.
  • Read a random Wikipedia article each day.
  • Ask good questions (a lot of them).
  • Read books about a topic you know nothing about. Get out of your recommendation-bubble.
  • Take a class on something, you’ve always been interested in.
  • Join a community online or offline about a topic you care about.
  • Create and publish as much content as you can.
  • Take the free first lesson that many classes offer (on topics you’ve never been interested in).
  • Share your ideas.
  • Share your opinions, but be polite.
  • Ask someone to teach you about their passion. Assume that everybody you meet has something to teach to you. Find out what it is and learn as much as you can from this person.
  • Connect people, make introductions, build a network.
  • Teach what you (think you) know.
  • Make a “to learn today” list every day — da Vinci did this as well.
  • Note questions you don’t know the answer to.
  • Make a “3+ things I’ve learned today” list every day. I think about publishing these lists as my Substack newsletter.
  • Adapt the idea machine practice: Write 10 ideas each day.
  • Keep an open mind. Always be willing to change your opinion and make it a point to search for evidence that clashes with what you think is true.
  • Do good work and be kind to people. They will invite you into their world.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. Treat everybody like a friend.

What do you think your life would look like if you did all of those things?

Don’t think too much about it. Try it out.

Make this your first experiment.

Try it for 30 days, or even just a week. Jump on the opportunities that come your way and see where you end up.

Hope I’ll see you there.

Your friend, Charly.