STOP Setting Goals, START Setting Challenges! (Personal Goals Vs Challenges Productivity Experiment)

Please excuse my language when I say that I don’t want to bullshit you with clichéd productivity hacks that you can find anywhere. This is a real life example of how I feel I’ve been a lot more productive in my own life using this simple differentiation between goals and challenges!

Check out this interview with Tom Walters on the subject of challenges!

Watch the video below:

=> Watch The Video On YouTube <=

I believe in experimenting with your own productivity. This year, I’ve shared on many occasions about how I’ve been able to be more productive at night than in the mornings.  I’ve shared with you how I’ve been more productive using Todoist than a calendar. I believe in experimentation, and this has been a major breakthrough for me.

I’ve been setting myself challenges instead of goals!

I’ve been setting myself goals for as long as I remember, because that’s what people say, “set yourself goals.” I believe, and I don’t know whether you’re going to agree with me, but I really do feel that goal setting has been so saturated online, and it’s making me fed up with it.

I want to achieve things, I want to make progress. I want to take action, that’s all I want to do. I’m willing to take action, I’m willing to put in the time. I want to just achieve.

Then I started to think to myself, what do I like as a person? And I hit the jackpot when I thought I’m going to set myself some challenges. I’m going to challenge myself to do something every day, publish a video every day, go running every day.

This sparked in my mind that I’ve just done something that has worked for me. I’m not going to say that this is going to work for you, but I’ve just unlocked something inside my own productivity that allows me to take massive action.

So after 11 months of 2017, 11 months of taking continuous action, I wanted to summarise why I believe that challenges are better than goals, in my own experience.

The first thing to work out is how do you know whether you’ve got a successful result when you set goals compared to challenges? Well for me, I sat myself a goal to run 250KM. This answer is outcome based. This is where people get discouraged, because if they haven’t achieved it, that’s it, you’ve failed.

But have you really failed?

Let’s say I ran 249KM. Have I really been unsuccessful? Absolutely not.

The goal is outcome based. But if you set yourself a challenge to run 250KM in maybe 100 days; that then becomes process based, because what I can do then is focus on running 2KM per day, and every day I manage that, I’ve been successful.

For me in my life, this gives me a lot more encouragement because I’m thinking more about the process. I can be successful at running once per day, twice per day, every two days – this has me focused on a daily turnover, rather than a future outcome.


The deadline is in the future. You can set a goal to be completed on December 31st 2017. If you set yourself a challenge to wake up every morning at 5pm, that becomes a present based deadline.

Some people may prefer the future deadline, but for me, I like the process, I like being in the present. I feel like I can control what I do today. If my challenge was to publish a video per day, that is present orientated. That makes me more productive.

When we start breaking down goals and how we’re going to achieve something, strategy-wise, it could be very complicated. Depending on what your goal is, you could be setting incredibly complex goals, which then gives you negative emotions and may overwhelm you. But if you think about the challenge point of view, it’s very simple.

With the running example, the idea of running once per day is super simple. I don’t want to think about how much weight I want to lose, how many calories I’m consuming and all the intricacies; I just want to run once per day. Keeping it that simple has been a good breakthrough for me to take action on a continuous, relentless basis.

Goal setting can be time consuming, time that we don’t have. I don’t have this time, and found myself putting off my goals; whereas a challenge, like running once per day, takes 15 minutes. I can find 15 minutes to do a lap of the neighbourhood. It’s simple, it’s present and it’s satisfying. It’s working for me.


Challenges involve one action that help you achieve what you want. Goals can be an unlimited amount of actions, which can overwhelm us. In our lives, we’re subject to information overload. If we’ve got so many actions to take on a continuous bases, I feel like I get overwhelmed. That feeling can throw you off the path of achieving a goal. Challenges keep things simple. One action, then move onto the next one.

You may look at this method and decide it’s not for you. That’s fine! This has worked for me, but may not work for you. However, I’d like to set you a challenge to set yourself some challenges. Whatever it is, try setting yourself some challenges. Try taking your goals and converting them into a series of challenges instead. That’s what I’m going to be doing going forward, because this method makes me feel dialled in and gives me more of a feeling of control over my belief in myself.

Try setting challenges instead of goals and let me know how it goes in the comments! 🙂

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