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Reblogged:Great as a Tool of Exchange, Poor as a Goal

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At Thinking Directions, Jean Moroney gives us "Three Reasons Money May Not Be the Goal to Set" in a very insightful post on goal-setting.

The three reasons stem from the fact that the versatility of money that makes it a great tool of exchange causes any goal set as an amount of money to be too abstract to serve as a decent goal -- unless, as she indicates, one already has a very clear idea of how to make the money and what one will use it for. (And in that case, the amount of money is really a substitute for a value-creation or acquisition type (or part) of a goal.)

Moroney's reasons are:
  1. [M]oney goals may not guide action sufficiently.
  2. A money goal isn't an end in itself.
  3. A goal needs a value-based meaning.
Moroney elaborates on the first of these in part:
Money is just the tool of exchange. Other people give you money in exchange for values you have created. This is the fundamental issue.

Generally, it doesn't make any sense to set a money goal until you already know a lot about how to create something that has a market value, and which you know how to sell. Once you know that, yes, you can set monthly sales targets or a salary goal. Alan Weiss, a well-known consultant, knows how to make money. So if he identifies something he wants that will cost $20k more than he has available, he will simply create a new program to raise the money he wants.

But if you don't know how to make money, a money goal can just be an albatross around your neck because you have no clear means of achieving it. You are better off setting goals to learn what you need to know, through experiment, training, or problem-solving as the situation merits. [bold added, italics in original]
Image by David Shankbone, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
I recommend reading the whole thing, because one can gain a better understanding of how to set goals simply from considering the ways money fails as a goal.

The piece reminds me of an old Steve Martin comedy routine in which he jokingly purports to have advice on how to be a millionaire and never pay taxes. After getting everyone's attention, he deadpans:
First... get a million dollars.
As with many good jokes, that line is funny because it presents something everyone knows (if not explicitly) in an unexpected way.

I always liked that bit, and I think I'll use it as a prompt to remind myself of this argument, so I will be more likely to set concrete goals that I know how to achieve, and that I actually find motivating.

-- CAV

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