Defining goals as Utopian ideals

by Admin
Updated: August 1, 2020

Set yourself up for accomplishment and happiness by defining goals as Utopian ideals

Setting goals is important for identifying what will ultimately bring you happiness. Being ambitious can make you attractive and a good leader - you’ve got places to go and you know how to get there! Properly defined goals can be most useful for defining the direction you’d like your life to take because your eventual satisfaction has more to do with your journey than your final destination.

Setting goals is usually seen a way of ensuring you get what you want. Unfortunately, by definition, it’s really a process of listing what you don’t have and what you haven’t achieved.

This is a terribly negative approach and can bring you down, working against your motivation and your ability to achieve the very goals you set for yourself. This is especially true if you have goals that are quite ambitious and seemingly out of reach in your current situation.

Do you like a challenge?

Challenges are great when you are highly confident of winning. Winning is always good, even without much of a challenge. Setting yourself a lot of proper challenges will result in some failures. Failure can be dangerous and unnecessary.

Goals are supposed to be achievable, aren’t they?

It’s generally accepted that our goals should be achievable so that we can actually achieve them. We use familiar acronyms like SMART and UPWARD to help us formulate them correctly. It sounds obvious - and I’ve done this myself for years - but now I disagree.

The problem is that our most important top-level goals - the ones critical to our happiness - tend to be hard to pin down in terms of specific achievements.

Goals such as world travel, financial security, playing a musical instrument etc. cannot simply be crossed off a list. When defined broadly like this, we can completely relate them to our overall level of happiness, but trying to apply specific parameters can take away some of the magic and can even prove to be a waste of time because our desires get modified as we learn more.


Sir Thomas More

Utopia is a word that was created by Sir Thomas More in 1516. Although it’s used to refer to a place that is close to perfect, the Greek words it’s derived from - οὐ (not) and τόπος (place) - reveal that it means “no place” rather than “perfect place.” Consequently, a more accurate & useful interpretation of Utopia is a perfect goal - something we can work towards free from any expectation that it will ever be completely attained.

The principle of Utopian applied to goals

If you formulate your goals as Utopian ideals, you can make them as ambitious & exciting as you like. They will become integrated with your personality & actions in a consistent way because you won’t have to keep changing or adding to them. Plus, you’ll be liberated from any fear of failure because there’s no requirement that any of them be fully achieved.

In this way, your goals become a source of strength which increases with each aligned accomplishment.

Old-style goals should be tasks

With old-style goal setting, you convert your ideas into specifics of the form: Achieve exactly X by a certain date e.g. achieve $100,000 in sales by the end of the month. There are two problems with this:

  1. Visualizing the achievement can be more comfortable than doing the necessary work.
  2. You can only Do in the Now so goals like this aren’t actually specific enough.

Your new-style top-level goal - your Utopian ideal - need be no more specific than “Have a profitable business that I enjoy” but it is coupled with a set of precise tasks you can get done today.

More info

Definition of “Utopian” at

“Utopia” at The British Library

“Fuzzy goals” at

“How to Set Goals” at

Internal links

ABCD system Micro tasks Winners and losers All articles
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