And Then What?

by Dan Walsh

The long and short of goal setting.

Goals are tricky business. It’s easy to think I know what’s best for myself – what’s important to pursue. Many of my 2014 pursuits have been temporarily derailed by Angelica’s and my upcoming move. Others have become less compelling as I learn more about what it will take to achieve them. These delays have caused me to delve deeper into my motivations. What happens after I achieve these goals? Let’s say I accomplish Project X and it’s a raging success. Then what?

I don’t have answers to this question.

At least, not good ones. Some of my 2014 goals are stepping stones for more advanced endeavors, but not all. Writing one post per day on will help me become a better writer. Interviewing 200 people about friendship will hopefully become a book on the topic. Reading (another) 52 books will make me smarter. Test launching 50 new products will make me a better marketer. These are all good outcomes, but then what?

I suppose I don’t need to know every step of the way. I firmly believe in the power of opportunity over careful planning, and the skills derived from the above efforts help me become a better opportunist. But let’s say an opportunity does come my way. Let’s say I write that friendship books and it’s a raging success. I become famous and go on speaking tours.

Then what?

I don’t know, write another book?

Awesome! So I have another bestseller and now I’m a super rich author. I’m living the American dream.

Then what?

Buy a mansion.

Then what?

I don’t know… live in it?

Rich and famous seems like a pretty crappy end goal if this is all I can come up with. I’d be bored out of my mind if that’s where my ambition ended. Jets and celebrity parties are fun (I assume), but then what? There must be something larger. Where does money and influence lead?

Maybe this is why super rich people like Bill Gates turn to philanthropy. Their motivations match their resources. Why not try to wipe out malaria when you have billions in discretionary funds? This is a noble goal.

But then what?

I’m left wondering how many of my goals only go one step in the right direction and then hit a dead end. Maybe this is ok.