Heretical Thoughts on Goals and Passion in Business












Have you ever stumbled on an on-line article or a passage in  a book or magazine that stops you in your tracks because it shines a light on something that has been niggling away in your mind for a while? Or it confirms a doubt about a widely held conventional wisdom you have been ruminating on. Something that could be considered heresy if you were to preach it without the facts or the endorsement of a recognised authority to back it up.

It has happened to me a few times, but this week I had two similar experiences. On two currently popular entrepreneurial and motivational subjects that are both different but connected.

One of the newsletters I subscribe to had a link to an article by Wray Herberton on  the Willpower Paradox in the Scientific American. The article discusses a study by  Psychologist Ibrahim Senay of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on goal setting and achieving. Senay examined self-talk and how the phrasing of self-talk affected the goal achieving abilities of the subjects.

He found that subjects who approached their tasks with a question “Will I?” scored higher in tests than those who outlined their task with the more positive “I Will”.

The article examines why this should be the case and suggests that wondering minds (Will I) outperform willful (I Will) minds. Read the article at the link above, for more detail.

It has long been a concern of mine that the conventional approach to goal setting as preached by many self-help and personal development experts varies between overly simplistic and downright dangerous.

Yes, I am a firm believer in goal setting, S.M.A.R.T. goals, visualisation, positive thinking . Vision boards and affirmations work for many people but not for others. My big BUT is for 2 reasons.

  • Some people achieve amazing goals without having them clearly defined or even written down.
  • The mind can be persuaded “I have a 6 figure income” for a while –  until there is no money to pay the rent.

Trying to convince our selves that we are driving the latest model Porsche or BMW  then climbing into a 10-year-old banger every morning, is an exercise in delusion which soon makes a mockery of the process because we know in our mind that we are lying to ourselves.  Whether this is a result of poor goal setting, unrealistic expectations, or over hyped promotion by experts, doesn’t matter. If we do not see progress we start doubting the effectiveness of the exercise and eventually abandon it.

passion in business


The second, probably more heretical thought  is challenging the idea that we should only create a business in an area we are passionate about. I have long thought there was a flaw in this argument. If I look back on my life, there were times when I was successful in businesses that I was not passionate about at all, didn’t even like much about them. What I was passionate about was succeeding in difficult businesses, helping people, and the rewards from being successful.  Farming was the exception, I did really like and enjoy what I was doing even though it was not as financially rewarding and ultimately more dangerous and heart-braking than other periods of my life.

Today, I listened to a podcast on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog in which he interviews Dane Alexander from The Foundation.

A refreshingly down to earth interview in which Dane explains how he has started seven businesses with no big idea, no money, no passion, no website, no product and no existing customers.  Then he started The Foundation to help other aspiring entrepreneurs do the same. His students have already scored a number of successes as a result of following his strategy.

Dane gives a detailed account of how he became successful in the interview, I am not going to repeat it all here. One of the gems that is worth repeating is his comment that trying to build a business around something you are passionate about stops too many people getting started and blinds them to a world full of opportunities.

If you are still struggling to get started in your business, or are looking for more options, go and listen to the podcast right now. It is one of the best interviews I have listened to for a long time.

I am not an affiliate or in any way associated with any of the people or organisations mentioned above.

What are your thoughts on goals and finding your passion? Leave a comment below.

Wishing you success.

Peter Wright





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