Life without goals
https://breakingsmart.substack.com/p/life-without-goals

“goal-setting is very dangerous in creative work”

“it is possible (and even necessary sometimes) to work without goals”

“1/ Many simple situations have clear goals, like traveling to a destination or assembling a piece of furniture.

2/ In these situations you are usually reusing one or more canned, proven plans rather than inventing one.

3/ At the other extreme are situations that seem to defy goal-setting and planning, like "revive the economy."

4/ Such "goals" are usually ill-posed in a "life, the universe and everything" way.

5/ Such situations usually resolve themselves in unexpected emergent ways or lead to inevitable collapse.

6/ Usually, we don't understand what happened till decades or centuries later, if ever.

7/ We still don't grok how Europe achieved the "goal" of getting out of the Dark Ages via a renaissance. Nobody planned it.

8/ Emergent resolutions, unlike planned solutions, usually occur despite authoritarian goals and plans, not because of them.”

“10/ In this middle, we have creativity-demanding situations that also seem to allow clear goals and determinate planning.

11/ Examples include things like getting to Mars or proving an important theorem.

12/ The apparent clarity of "obvious" goals and plans is deceptive. Critical enabling breakthroughs are usually unplanned.

13/ Proving a theorem, for instance, may involve spotting an unexpected connection to a seemingly unrelated math problem.

14/ Getting to Mars may rely on an unplanned technical breakthrough in a field not even considered in the plan.

15/ Without such creative breakthroughs, complex goals leads to failure or pyrrhic victories.”

“17/ Setting a goal closes off thinking to the unexpected insights that might create extreme leverage.”

“18/ To work without goals, the key is to devote energy and attention to capability expansion through tinkering.

19/ Tinkering with a sufficiently open mind and playful attitude reveals unexpected capabilities.

20/ These unexpected capabilities suggest unplanned possibilities. The medium suggests the message.

21/ You may not achieve the goal you set, but whatever you do achieve will be a highly leveraged victory.”

“22/ In other words, you'll know what you want when you find it, so long as you are expanding capabilities.

23/ Complex achievements depend on a cascade of such leveraged breakthroughs fueling serendipitous momentum.

24/ From beginning to end, it may feel like a goal is being set and achieved, but that's usually a hindsight narrative.”

“25/ Is there any need for goal-setting in complex situations? Perhaps. Goal-setting is fundamentally about analysis..

26/ In material effect terms, analysis is destruction, synthesis is creation.

27/ Destruction (not always a bad thing) of any sort may work well with goal-setting.

28/ Why? Because when you are destroying, entropy and uncertainty work with you, instead of against you.

29/ Examples include war-time goals, placing a complex short-selling bet or taking a machine apart to see how it works.

30/ You can "plan" for destruction in a way you cannot plan for creation. And the process can generate creation insights too.

31/ Of course complex achievements involve creative-destruction, so you need a bit of both.

32/ Plan your destruction with goals, your creation through tinkering and capability expansion.

33/ In conclusion, there IS a best way to achieve any goal: by accident. So try and get lucky, punk.”

Life without goals
https://breakingsmart.substack.com/p/life-without-goals

“goal-setting is very dangerous in creative work”

“it is possible (and even necessary sometimes) to work without goals”

“1/ Many simple situations have clear goals, like traveling to a destination or assembling a piece of furniture.

2/ In these situations you are usually reusing one or more canned, proven plans rather than inventing one.

3/ At the other extreme are situations that seem to defy goal-setting and planning, like "revive the economy."

4/ Such "goals" are usually ill-posed in a "life, the universe and everything" way.

5/ Such situations usually resolve themselves in unexpected emergent ways or lead to inevitable collapse.

6/ Usually, we don't understand what happened till decades or centuries later, if ever.

7/ We still don't grok how Europe achieved the "goal" of getting out of the Dark Ages via a renaissance. Nobody planned it.

8/ Emergent resolutions, unlike planned solutions, usually occur despite authoritarian goals and plans, not because of them.”

“10/ In this middle, we have creativity-demanding situations that also seem to allow clear goals and determinate planning.

11/ Examples include things like getting to Mars or proving an important theorem.

12/ The apparent clarity of "obvious" goals and plans is deceptive. Critical enabling breakthroughs are usually unplanned.

13/ Proving a theorem, for instance, may involve spotting an unexpected connection to a seemingly unrelated math problem.

14/ Getting to Mars may rely on an unplanned technical breakthrough in a field not even considered in the plan.

15/ Without such creative breakthroughs, complex goals leads to failure or pyrrhic victories.”

“17/ Setting a goal closes off thinking to the unexpected insights that might create extreme leverage.”

“18/ To work without goals, the key is to devote energy and attention to capability expansion through tinkering.

19/ Tinkering with a sufficiently open mind and playful attitude reveals unexpected capabilities.

20/ These unexpected capabilities suggest unplanned possibilities. The medium suggests the message.

21/ You may not achieve the goal you set, but whatever you do achieve will be a highly leveraged victory.”

“22/ In other words, you'll know what you want when you find it, so long as you are expanding capabilities.

23/ Complex achievements depend on a cascade of such leveraged breakthroughs fueling serendipitous momentum.

24/ From beginning to end, it may feel like a goal is being set and achieved, but that's usually a hindsight narrative.”

“25/ Is there any need for goal-setting in complex situations? Perhaps. Goal-setting is fundamentally about analysis..

26/ In material effect terms, analysis is destruction, synthesis is creation.

27/ Destruction (not always a bad thing) of any sort may work well with goal-setting.

28/ Why? Because when you are destroying, entropy and uncertainty work with you, instead of against you.

29/ Examples include war-time goals, placing a complex short-selling bet or taking a machine apart to see how it works.

30/ You can "plan" for destruction in a way you cannot plan for creation. And the process can generate creation insights too.

31/ Of course complex achievements involve creative-destruction, so you need a bit of both.

32/ Plan your destruction with goals, your creation through tinkering and capability expansion.

33/ In conclusion, there IS a best way to achieve any goal: by accident. So try and get lucky, punk.”

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