Why Goal Setting Is A Complete Waste Of Time (unless you do this)

“Goals” are like “New Year’s resolutions”…frequently made but rarely accomplished.

If you struggle to achieve your goals, my good friend Bill Bartmann, the author of “Bailout Riches” and once named by Inc. magazine as “The Billionaire Nobody Knows” gave me an awesome tip to trick your mind into accomplishing exactly what you want to, every single time.

“Don’t think of your goals as goals.”

Are you scratching your head right now? I know I sure was. Until I saw the white elephant sitting in the room…

In our society most people describe a goal as “a lofty ambition,” something to “shoot for,” something to “strive for,” or something to “work towards”…

Nothing wrong with with any of that is there?

As long as you don’t care about your goal that much, it’s perfectly fine…

You see the descriptions we give the the word “goal” implies your objective will be difficult to achieve. There is a subtle undertone crafted by the implicit meaning of your words telling you it’s just as likely you won’t achieve your ultimate goal, as it is that you will make it happen.

Too often this gives you an excuse making it okay (or at least forgivable) if you fail meaning the word “goal” by popular definition actually conditions you for failure.


Here’s how it works.

You start out “shooting for a goal,” wanting to hit it, but you also know by the sheer definition of the word it probably isn’t going to happen. Unfortunately opening this door to the possibility it might not be achieved, works against you, weakening your power to manifest the “impossible”.

But that’s not the worst part…

Even if you hit your goals 90 percent or more of the time (which would be incredible), you’d still be failing 10% of the time, right?


(By the way if you said a number anywhere near this high, you are one extraordinary human being, and you shouldn’t be reading this blog post, you should writeabestsellingbookwithme).


Even if you gave a more realistic reply, you’d only probably say you hit your goals 60-70% of the time, which means you’re failing 30-40% of the time!

How confident of success or how much momentum do you think you can give when you’re “trying” to do something you’ve previously failed at a rate of 30 – 40% of the time?

Not very.

But what is the success rate for keeping a promise when you “promise” to do something?

I bet it’s a higher percentage than the “goals” you’ve set to achieve because promises are protected by your morals, beliefs and overall value system. Even at a subconscious level, this system to honor promises makes them much more important in our minds than a goal for three basic reasons.

Three very distinct reasons why a promise means more to YOU than a goal:

#1 A Promise Has Emotional Attachment

A promise carries a much deeper sense of responsibility to the person to whom it is made—whether to yourself or someone else. With these feelings, a promise also carries a higher emotional attachment.

When you make a promise, your emotions are involved. Because of the emotional attachment, the file clerk in our mind will now give this promise an immediate priority filing in the filing cabinet.

2. A Promise Has A History Of Success

Our mind recognizes that you have a history of success when it comes to making promises. It knows you’ve historically achieved an exceptionally high success rate of nearly 100 percent in many cases and strives to maintain this momentum.

Based on this history your subconscious assumes you can and will keep this promise. Rather than being preconditioned for failure based on past performance, your mind is preconditioned for success because it knows it’s more than capable of keeping a promise.

These prior successes carry a positive emotional attachment from how it felt when you did what you promised you were going to do. Your file clerk recorded this data in your file cabinet as a positive emotional reaction, working hard to keep your promises so you can feel “good”.

3. A Promise Triggers Your Subconscious Mind To Set You Up For Success


By limiting your level of achievement to just Goal setting you are turning your subconscious into an “overprotective parent”. A parent who is contstantly attempting to talk you out of taking any risk, for fear you might fail.

It actually works against your goals convincing you that you don’t have time for lofty dreams, quietly making it ok to “forget” about them.

But when you set a promise, the opposite happens.

Your subconscious mind switches from the role of “overprotective parent”, attempting to talk you out of your goal to the role of “helpful parent” who is going to clear the path and make it easy to achieve success!

Think of the difference between setting a “goal” to quit smoking and “promising” someone you love you’ll quit smoking.

If you’ve set a “goal” to quit smoking, it’s of little consequence to anyone but yourself you failed to achieve this “goal.” However, if you have “promised” someone you love you were going to quit and then later resumed smoking, you’d be afraid or embarrassed to admit you failed to keep your promise to your loved one, wouldn’t you?



Failing to keep a promise leads to an emotional reaction of shame, embarrassment, or disappointment. Your subconscious mind avoids these feelings of failure or suffering at all costs because its job is to keep you from suffering any of those things.

In fact, its sole purpose is self-preservation.


This subconscious need for “self-survival” is exactly what forces it to helps you keep your promise like a “helpful parent”. The part of you feeling almost as if you’ll die if you don’t keep your word is comforted as you move towards keeping your promise.

By changing the way you think about the process, you’ve just increased your likelihood of success by a huge margin. You’ll still have some work to do, but now you’re positioned for success. And most importantly we now you have an easy way get your subconscious work for you, not against you.

If you are ready to change your goals into promises, take the first step by leaving a comment and making a public commitment to yourself – TODAY, first list a goal you have now and then change it into a promise. How did that feel?






GregS. Reid is a #1 best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the CEO of several successful corporations, who has dedicated his life to helping others achieve the ultimate fulfillment of finding and living a life of purpose. Greg will personally share with you everything he knows about how to have a life of Sustained Abundance and Financial Freedom by discovering Your Personal Success Equation as you’ll learn in his program ThePathwaysToGreatness.




31 Responses to Why Goal Setting Is A Complete Waste Of Time (unless you do this)

  1. Ola says:

    truely inspiring from all ends… brillantlly written and it will help me alot in self confidence as well as self improvement..

  2. Jim says:

    goal, promise, call it whatever you like ?!!!!!!

  3. Goal setting to me is fun and adds excitement to my life. Goals no matter how big or small will help you to stretch and grow in ways that you never imagined.

  4. My goal now is to become a director of philosophy and i promise to be royal to it,and being morally up right and productivity.However i would like to thank you for taking your time on this article.

  5. Tony Edwards says:

    Seemingly a very subtle difference, but upon deeper inspection goals and promises are quite distinct. I definitely agree that we are much more likely to make good on promises than we are on goals.

    However, there is also a big difference between the things we normally promise and the things we set as goals. Promises are often quite doable, and goals are much more lofty. But we can break our goals down into smaller promises to make reaching our goals much more manageable.

  6. It is an interesting observation that people get intimided by their own goals. Thinking of your goals as ‘promises’ might have its own limitations. When I personally make a promise it is usually something I can control-me. Some of our goals are often out of our control, in terms of a definite time frame. Not always does it happen as planned.

  7. Ludvig Kallin says:

    I promise that I, once i made this comment will do a silly walk up to my room and then back to my computer and play a Star craft 2 game!
    I’m terrified by that find match button!
    Once this is complete I Promise you and myself that I will feel GOOD because I actually accomplished a goal today! One of few in my life but this one shall not fail! Hopefully i will set more and better goals for myself in the future. Good post, appreciate it :)

  8. Very interesting post. Whether goal or promise the result lies on “action”. Goals will remain goals and promises will remain promises unless I get up and take action on it. If you want something goal-oriented, you may check out http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and has time tracking. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

  9. Ana says:

    My goals are happiness, healthy body, financial independence and better organizing skills!!!!

  10. Karen says:

    Thank you for your inspiring words.

    How exciting to find a fresh take on achieving what you want. I think this approach will work better for me than the usual and oft repeated “goal setting” model.

  11. Success says:

    What a fantastic post! I never quite thought about it like that. I have a goal board where I have written down all my goals to see on a daily basis to motivate me but I will be changing the wording on that title to Promist Board! <3 Thanks for the tip.

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  14. Kerry D. says:

    Do you mean Doctor of Philosophy? As in, PhD? Just wondering.

  15. rhonda says:

    The concept of a promise works much better for me. I think some personalities can set goals, make to do lists, and achieve what they intended. I am not one of those people. I wanted to make HUGE changes in my life for a long time. When the internal struggle became great enough, I promised myself I would leave Texas and get to Vienna…somehow. I accomplished this feat by just asking the next question. How? What should I do next? What should I do with my house? What am I going to do with my car? Answers to these and dozens of detailed questions helped me to ACT to ACHIEVE the goal. The “goal” had emotional attachment and was very dear to me, so I was able to move forward with each tiny step.

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  17. Marco Paulo says:

    We may have different strategies in accomplishing what we are aspiring for. The important thing though is to keep the intentions of completing them. We need to work for it, stay motivated, and never back down from any obstacle that would hinder our success. I agree with your statement that setting a goal is a complete waste of time unless we do it. I think this may also apply to making a promise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  18. Prosklitiria says:

    For me “Goals” are more powerful. In any case the only way to accomplish something meaningful (goal or promise) is to try hard. I don’t think that i can trick myself just changing the name of what i like to accomplish in my life.
    On the other hand some of the point of this post like the “Emotional Attachment” side of a promise (or a goal) is something very important.
    So for me is the way you handle what yoy like to accomplish and not just the name.

  19. I agree totally. Setting and working towards goals at any age is what everyone should be doing. Great article, keep up the good work.

    Email:pritchardlance@yahoo.com enviroperson1@limitlesslifestyle.net

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  20. Brittany says:

    I think your idea of making a promise, not setting a goal, is quite interesting and I could see why it would feel like you are more emotionally attached to it. I set goals for myself this year and I have reached them all so far for over 5 months in my blog http://theshynessproject.wordpress.com/ but then again I did make myself promise that I wouldn’t give up. I made myself sign a contract when I started having doubts in the beginning. Plus having a public blog about my goals has encouraged me to fulfill them.

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  23. PMA says:

    This post’s rather insightful. In my opinion, being committed and perseverance play a very impt role in acheiving what we want.
    My major definitive purpose as a student is to get Johnson & Johnson scholarship in by Mar 2013.

  24. Hassansiddiqui95 says:

    My goal is to become a singer and I’m making a promise to myself today that I will be a singer when i grow up or i’ll happily die trying..=)

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  26. Jonathan says:

    My goal is to get  to MIT and be the founder of a nano firm. Do I feel overwhelmed? Yes. Do I know where to start? No. However I promise that in 4 years I’ll be at MIT. In 10 years my company will be formed. I will not break this promise!

  27. padmic101 says:

    When it comes to Goal setting the thing for me is to decide exactly what key area of my life I like to work on and what end result do I have in mind.?

    I then read my goal and visualization them every morning and evening before you go to bed.

    Remember To:

    1 Commit 100% to your Goal. You will only get out of it what you put into it.

    2 Make the decision to change your life for the better.

    3 Take action! In order to make a change in your life, you have to actually do something. Take responsibility for your own life and your own results.

    4 Begin with the end in mind.

    For more information on my Goal setting you can check out my article on How To Manifest Successful Goals Easily       

    Good Luck with your Goal setting

  28. Momentum says:

    It seems to me that there is the movement of people who think that setting goal is stupid, the waste of time and does not help you to achieve your goals.

    I wouldn’t say that this is not correct, but I do think that one has to differentiate between what kind of calls you’re setting yourself.

    If you’re setting your self a goal of earning $100 000  dollars next years, then this will be rather challenging to achieve, because you do not specify concrete action that will get you closer to that goal

    If on the other hand you’re setting yourself the goal to make three great projects that will allow you to go to your boss and  renegotiate your salary, it will create a completely different outset to achieve that goal.

  29. Lucy says:

    I have never thought of this perspective.
    There is some truth involving emotional feeling to a promise. One is more
    likely to succeed, subconsciously. Although, another way to make a long term
    goal achievable is by making short term goals or “promises.” By making
    short improvements one will steadily be able to complete the   long-term

  30. Tazy says:

    wow, your talk is very inspirational i’ve never looked at goal setting from that perspective before, i love it so much specially that part where you said if we consider our goals like promises from people we love,once i thought of them that way it’s like all the sudden i’m motivated, and i feel like now i’m ready more than any other time to achieve goals, also i think that website 


     is going to be really great and helpful forme, so i’m sharing it with you so that you all can benefit from it 

  31. Jack Grabon says:

    I find your idea intriguing, Greg.

    People are much more leary of breaking a promise than they are of falling short on a goal. However, I would think that people who took this approach would then be reluctant to make a goal into a promise or would likely scale back from their original goal. I’m curious if you’ve found this happening with the people you work with.

    In essence, I’m wondering how to make a person feel comfortable with stretching to reach for something while still feeling like s/he can make a promise that will be kept.

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