Are Habits Better Than Goals? Are Goals Bad?

I recently received an email from an uber-successful entrepreneur. This lady has a multi-million-dollar company and she’s a mentor and coach for other entrepreneurs.

However, given some of the recent articles on the Internet she’s read about goal achievement, she was wondering if perhaps having a group of entrepreneurs set goals for themselves might be harmful. She asked my thoughts.

Do you think it’s useful to set goals that are related to company revenue?

Example: Goal to hit $1 million in sales in 2016.

Some articles are saying that setting a company goal like this can cause a feeling of failure, since actually hitting this goal is out of our control. I have always set goals like this in my company and it’s how I grew.

It’s a bit crazy to continually see and/or hear about this concept of “Habits vs. Goals.”

BTW: You’d think, being often referred to as “the habits guy,” that I would love to see and hear this sort of meme. However I don’t, and here’s why.

To put it simply, it’s illogical and dichotomous. One isn’t “better” than the other. And, it’s probably important to note that such a mindset isn’t supportive of what The Habit Factor represents or promotes anyway: A process that includes habit alignment, where one designs and establishes habits that are supportive of a goal in order to achieve that goal more quickly.

If people start believing GOALS are “bad,” or it’s “Goals vs Habits,” then they don’t have a destination or target to aim for. And, without a goal, it takes much of the juice (motivation/desire) out of the habit development process; the desire to develop the habit becomes somewhat impotent.

According to Dr. Stephen Covey, three things are required for habit development: Knowledge, Skill & Desire. The desire is often supplied by the goal — that provides the juice! To understand the P.A.R.R. habit development process, see this post.

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It’s simply NOT an either/or proposition when it comes to habits and goals. Habits serve goals and goals serve habits.

Each (it could be argued) is equally valuable, and I suspect that is by design. It’s easy to understand how having a goal could help you to identify what habits you should set out to develop. And, once established, those habits help you more quickly achieve your goal.

The child who has the goal of becoming a pianist — well, she develops the habit of playing piano. The runner who has the goal of becoming a marathoner? Correct! He develops the habit of running. The writer who wants to become a published author develops the habit of writing.


So, in response to her email I wrote,

It is VERY useful (in my experience) to still set the goal. It is true, many things are beyond one’s control. However, the goal is just something to aim for / a scoreboard / a result / a target. As you know, it’s the process, strategy and the HABITs that will help one get there.



Granted, this video (link) and the post itself is probably a bit more about a book promotion and less about philosophy of goals and achievement. However, as you watch this video (from a couple of “influencers”), it’s easy to see how the “goals are bad” message becomes popularized. And, since these guys are smart, I’d like to think it’s important to them as well to share this important understanding and relationship.

Who knows — maybe even to promote it. Some day. ; )


Take away paradox from the thinker and you have a professor.” – Soren Kierkegaard

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