So I just finished reading “Anti-Goals: Find Success by Knowing What to Avoid” by Kevin Wagonfoot as part of my big push again into reading more personal/professional development books in 2019. This book struck several chords with me, and therefore I want to share with you.
So anti-goals are basically things that you want to avoid (and we’re talking things other than death, taxes, and getting sick—because really those are three things that no one can avoid forever). But the book also informs “you cannot know what you want, until you know exactly what it is you don’t want”.
That quote right there basically sums up my life for the past eight years for different areas of my life—namely in terms of work and health. I’ve been slightly struggling with my job search/transition because I don’t know exactly what I want to do—though I have some ideas of the type of jobs I don’t want to do (now I just need to narrow it down in terms of company culture to determine the companies that I don’t want to work for).
Another two line from the book that resonated with me were “You’re not going to know what you want until you taste it. You might not even know your own preferences yet, even if you’re 30+ years old”. All I have to say is—Yes, yes, yes—I have no idea of what all my own preferences are yet. Right now I’m still learning the things I want to avoid (mainly in terms of personalities of people to try to avoid being around).
Also there was the addition of phrases to avoid, which mainly leads to self-doubt, negative self-talk, and procrastination. Those phrases include: “I’ll start on it tomorrow”—I will admit guilt to using this phrase. I am now going to try to be better at starting projects on time (even if they’re something I rather not be doing). “We’ve never done it like that before”—if I’ve used this phrase it usually is in a lab setting and would be followed by ‘how is different from our current method’ or something similar. “I don’t know what to do”—I’ve only said this to myself when I’m in the middle of an anxiety attack thinking about all the different possible job directions I could go and the ways I could get there. I will try to get better at not thinking (or saying out loud) as I work on transitioning into industry. The phrase that is suggested that you also avoid using is “this is in my way”. Now that particular phrase can be mentally thought when looking at anything or anyone; while I probably do mentally use the phrase—it is so subconsciously that I truthfully can’t remember the last time I thought it in a negative way against someone. I probably mentally say it around things at home or when looking at a calendar and wanting the next break.
So getting back to the setting of the anti-goals, you can pick as many different parts of your life to look at and list out the things you dislike and would like to avoid in each area, and then list ways that you could possibly avoid doing those things (while realizing that some anti-goals may still crop up in life and you will then just have to face them head on).
I then realized that this could almost blend in with the Level 10 life—here you always want to raise the level of different areas of your life, and with the anti-goals you want to avoid hitting zero. I think that they could almost be a balance of each other (in certain areas).
So if I were to list out different areas of life and the things I would like to avoid they would probably look something like this:
Continuously long work days.
Working on the weekends
Not getting paid what I’m worth
Large amount of credit card debt
Not enough in the retirement account
Struggling to survive month to month
Health and Fitness
Being overweight and out of shape
Not getting good night sleep
Having more stuff than I need
Feeling “cluttered and disorganized”
Friends & Family
Losing touch and not staying connected
So my anti-goals would then be for each area:
Position that would only require occasional long day (or weekend) but with compensation (days off in return)
Move into a job sector that will pay people with high level of scientific training what they are worth
Avoid using credit cards when ever possible & keep the debt low enough to be paid off monthly
Figure out different ways of being able to get more money into a retirement account (safe alternatives to the stock market)
Have a job with a company that pays what you are worth, and also one that takes into account the cost of living in that particular city/area
Being financial responsible and realizing that less is actually more.
Heath and fitness:
Starting to workout at least three days a week.
Aiming for at least 14,000 steps/day
Cooking more at home, and trying to cook healthier versions of different meals
Aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night
Meditating before bed
Not checking the news/social media before bed
Not counting calories/macros & giving up the word “diet”
Selling back movies that I haven’t watched in years (this should be fun, since I technically haven’t watched any of the movies in my storage unit in the past 6 years)
Donating clothes that I don’t wear that often
Start to realize that less is actually more and get rid of stuff that I don’t need (or really want)
Set up a cleaning schedule and actually try to stick with it for once
Friends & Family
Keeping in touch via social media (if I don’t have their telephone number or email address)
Trying to get together for coffee, or a walk, or something sort of social event
Actually accepting invitations to social events and then actually showing up to them.
Let friends/family know when I’m in the area on vacation/work so that maybe can get together for coffee or dinner
All in all, this was a good book with some very good points (and the sad thing is—is that all the points were basic, common sense points that as a society we’ve seem to have lost connections to). I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to figure out why they’re stuck where they are in life, but also remember that change doesn’t happen over night and that like anything in life slow, sustainable progress is better than quick, fast changes that you might not be able to maintain over the years.
While the anti-goal list seems lofty and extensive-I’m not going to be doing all of them every day of the week. I may try to focus on one area one week, and then maybe another area the next week, while still incorporating some of the previous week. Small steps will still get you to the finish line–and life shouldn’t be a race, we will all get to our own finish lines at the correct time.