Part 2 | Six Reasons Why Having Goals Works


September 26, 2016

Reason #2: Goals Instruct Us on the Value of Delayed Gratification

Setting a goal means thinking about the direction we are heading and then going there on purpose.  And, the “on purpose” part is absolutely crucial.

Sure, we might stumble our way into greatness every once in a while; or, accidentally trip over an excellent opportunity.  However, the staggering consistency in the mindset of great men and women boils down to this: purpose-driven grit and a willingness to delay gratification.

That is, establishing a cause, a reason, or a destination (a goal) and then working consistently toward it.

We can ask ourselves, “Is it possible to work consistently toward nothing and/or in no direction?”  Sure, maybe.  But, how satisfying would that be and how long would we be willing to work in that mode?  After all, isn’t that what we mean when we say “dead-end job”.

Setting a goal provides the reason and the reminder for why exactly we are doing what we are doing.  In times of despair or tiredness, we can point to our goal and say, “That is why.”

Importantly, because most big goals cannot be achieved in a single day, we must adopt a long view.  That is, a vision with a determined end.  A place to go on purpose.

In that way, having a fixed objective can be liberating because it dials down the static, allows us to hone in, and apply our time, energy, and efforts in ways that add-up.  Having persistence allows for the things we do to grow by accretion instead of by luck.

At times, the goal itself might be to mosey and meander and to just be in the moment with no objective—this is, in fact, healthy and crucial in life.  It would, after all, be stifling if every move we made was carefully calculated to reach a pre-determined end.

That said, mapping out a strategy and doing some things on purpose also has its place in our journey.  Letting nature take its course isn’t necessarily a good overall life strategy.

Action:  Ask yourself, “What is a goal that I have that cannot be achieved in one day?”  Next, set the timer on your phone for 5 mins and write down what the very initial action-steps would be in achieving this goal.  Can you envision a timeline?  As in, asking yourself, “If I were to take consistent daily action on X, Y, and Z, I would achieve my goal in one week, two months, five years…”

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.Circle Photo

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.