There are many flaws in this philosophy. In many ways this is bad advice.

The first problem with this notion is that people often pick goals that, in the end, are bad for them, that make them unhappy or unsatisfied. The young person picks the “get rich” goal or “get a beautiful partner” goal or “become famous” goal and totally commits to it only to find that not only does attaining that prize not make them happy, it has actually made them materially unhappy.

As Willie Nelson sang, “Started out with the dreams and the plans of a wise man, ended up with the heartaches of a fool.”

This philosophy also ignores the methods people employ to reach their goal. Instead, it urges people to do “what is required” to reach that goal. If you decide that you have to lie, cheat, steal, etc. to get rich or get whatever gold ring you think you want, that is, if you become a terrible human being in pursuit of your goal, you’re a detriment to yourself and everyone who has to deal with you. Bad plan.

Another flaw in this idea is its failure to acknowledge that there are goals that people cannot reach. If your goal is to be a pro football quarterback and you’re five feet five, you will never, ever be successful in that quest. You need to be wise enough to recognize those goals that you cannot achieve and not waste your time on them.

You also need to be smart enough to recognize those goals that you should not achieve. If you’re a woman in a physically abusive marriage your goal should not be to do anything and everything necessary to save your marriage. Pursuing that goal would be self-destructive.

You need to be smart enough to realize when your goal is either unattainable or bad for you and abandon it. Sometimes you won’t know that in the beginning. You have to learn from your experience when you should abandon a goal, that sometime you should quit.

To the extent that you advocate picking whatever goal you think you want and then doing anything and everything to achieve it, with no limitations on the goal nor the methods, this is bad advice.

— David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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