Goals Don’t Work, Lifestyles Do

Goals Don’t Work, Lifestyles Do

Dec. 6, 2019

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She said, “My goal is to become more consistent.”

I listened. I empathized. I thought she could do it.

But there was a zero percent chance she was going to achieve her goal.


Her lifestyle.

In her words, she “always screws it up when the games get close.”

Always means more than once. Always means that the screw-ups were ever-present.

Her days were filled with a constantly-changing schedule, last-minute adjustments, and errors on big points in her tennis matches.

She could make goals until the cows come home and it wouldn’t matter.

Her lifestyle would override everything else.


She said, “I want to play college tennis and get a full scholarship.”

I listened. I knew she had the skill.

And I knew she had almost no chance of achieving that goal.


In her words, “I want to do those things, but academics come first.”

Once she dropped those fateful words, I knew it was next to impossible.

This athlete, who clearly had the potential for college stardom, had a lifestyle filled with projects instead of practice, committee meetings instead of tournaments, and sleepless nights studying instead of intense on-court training.

One athletic step forward, two academic steps back.

It was arguably a noble life she was leading. It was also a life that would never achieve her goals.


She said, “I want to turn pro.”

I listened. She was way shorter than her peers. She didn’t have a single stroke that was viable.

And there was no doubt in my mind she would end up with a world ranking.


She wanted a life that was on the court. She played seven days a week, by choice.

Is there a party this weekend? She might go after practice.

Is there a big school project due? She’d take a little extra time before and after tennis to get it done.

Is there a concert in town? Sorry, she’s playing a tournament this weekend.

It was almost as if the coaching she received didn’t matter. It was almost as if it was inevitable.

Turning pro wasn’t a part-time, vision-board daydream.

It was the heartbeat of her life.

Her life was structured as a pro would structure it.

With that lifestyle, there wasn’t any other way this would go.

Needless to say, she got her world ranking.

And she got it, not because she had a goal, but because she lived the life.


My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.