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How I Think About Goals

Hey friends, I recently had a conversation with Ben Hardy, author of the book Personality isn’t Perma
How I Think About Goals
By Ali Abdaal • Issue #127 • View online
Hey friends,
I recently had a conversation with Ben Hardy, author of the book Personality isn’t Permanent. He’s a psychologist who teaches and writes about self-improvement, willpower and other fun stuff.
During the conversation (you can see the live replay here), we discussed the idea of goals.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about goals. In the past, I’ve been very anti-goal-setting. I felt that if we set firm goals, (a) we’re in a constant state of dissatisfaction until we hit them, and (b) once we hit them, we feel good for a few seconds, and then we move onto the next goal.
During the conversation however, Ben went some way towards helping me change the way I think about goals. One phrase in particular stood out to me -
Measure the Gain, not the Gap.
Ben argued that it’s totally fine to have a goal. If we consistently measure ourselves against that goal (the “gap” between where we are, and where we want to be) then sure, that’s generally a recipe for disappointment.
But if instead, we measure the “gain” (how far we’ve come relative to our past selves), we can feel good about our progress while continuing to make more of it.
It’s a simple shift in mindset that I’ve found myself thinking a lot about over these past few weeks.
I still don’t 100% buy the idea of goal-setting, but I’m working through Ben’s (100% free) 30-day Future Self programme and I’m finding my mind slowly beginning to change. You can check it out on his website if you’d like.
Have a great week!
Ali
PS: Final call to join the ‘Teach What You Know’ online summit (22-24th Sept) where I’ll be giving a talk about entrepreneurship, content creation and productivity, amongst 40 other workshops. Check it out and get your tickets here.

My Favourite Things This Week
1 - Book - I’ve just finished listening to book 2/2 of the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. It’s absolutely incredible. If you’re into fantasy books, you’ll love it. If you’re not, it’s the perfect, accessible introduction to the genre, with a very manageable series length (only 2 books) and a gripping storyline.
2 - App - On last weekend’s Scotland road trip, my boys and I listened to a few podcasts using the app Airr. I released a video that mentioned it this week, but in case you missed it, Airr is an excellent iOS podcast player that lets you save highlights and quotes from podcasts. It’s game-changing. And it’s 100% free too.
3 - Bathroom accessory - I’ve recently started using dedicated face towels for my face (bought from The White Company because I’m a classy guy). Since starting to use them, my face hasn’t been constantly fighting against spots like it used to when I would dry it with my bath towel. Maybe this is common knowledge, but it was certainly a revelation for me.
Quote of the Week
There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.
Tweet of the Week
Ali Abdaal
Make the app reflect reality. Don't force reality to reflect the app.
This Week's Videos
The 5 Magical Apps That Changed My Life
The 5 Magical Apps That Changed My Life
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Ali Abdaal

I’m Ali, a junior doctor, YouTuber and podcaster from Cambridge, UK. Every Sunday I write an email newsletter with some thoughts, life lessons and interesting articles I discovered on the internet that week.

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Ali Abdaal, Cambridge, UK.