Too Many Goals: Is it Bad?


When I first started thinking of improving my life, the first step people say is to find out what you want to do in life or your goals. So I listed these goals and found out that I really have a lot. It got me wondering how am I able to finish all of these goals. It seems if I do all of these goals, it can cause problems, and based on my experiences, it seems I have a lot to share. So in this article, I am going to share with you if too many goals are bad or not.

Having too many goals is bad when it comes to achieving results. The reason for this is that too many goals can cause us to burn out. Burnout happens when we work on too many goals at a time which can severely hurt our productivity and output.

That is the main reason why too many goals are bad. In this article, we are going to discuss more on this topic. Especially the reasons why too many goals are bad for us, how many goals are considered to be too much, and how many goals should you have at any given time. Let’s begin.

Is it bad to have too many goals?

It is bad to have too many goals because of the concept known as switching cost. Switching cost is the price we have to pay when we switch our focus from one goal to another. The more switching cost, the more time and energy wasted thus, it can make us feel stuck.

I remember when I was new to personal development, I had a lot of goals. I want to improve my finances by having a lot of savings, and then making my business successful. I also want to work out more often, eat healthily, build a website, and read more books. You get the idea.

That actually caused me to have the most miserable days of my life. Because of too many things to do, I feel like I’m stuck and whatever I do, I did not have any improvements.

It caused me to lose my investments and initial business.

I didn’t learn my lesson.

After that, I tried building websites. I was so excited when I made my first website and decided to make 4 websites.

I tried to build 4, write articles for all of them.

None of them succeeded for 4 years and I had to close 2 of them because I ran out of cash to maintain my websites.

That day, I started to learn my lesson.

Right now, it is always in my head that I need some sort of priority. For example, my goal for this website is to publish 90 articles within this quarter.

Guess what, last month was amazing as I had a 50% increase in my website visits.

That was unheard of when I was making 4 websites 3 years ago.

Right now, I am a firm believer in only having few websites since it helped me a lot. We are going to discuss more on this topic later since we are going to the science behind having too few goals.

Right now, you know my experience and how having fewer goals actually helped me for the better.

Actually, I recommend you to read another post. It is about how many goals should we have at the same time. It is a good complementary since this article is about why it is bad to have many goals, which will focus on how many goals are optimal. I also discussed there how can we reduce our goals. Here is the link: How many goals should you have at a time?

It is very in-depth and I am confident that reading that together with this article will increase your knowledge on the importance of having fewer goals.

As proof, here is a sample picture from that article which discussed how can we decrease the number of goals we have so it won’t be many. But at the same time, increase our productivity.

How many goals are too many?

Having more than 3 goals is considered to be many. The reason for this is that more than 3 goals cause us to lose too much focus in working on our goals. The outcome of this is that we drain too much willpower and energy which causes burnout.

The reason for this is what experts call the switching cost.

Switching cost is the price we have to pay if we have too many goals. It is bad to have too many goals for that reason because it usually takes 15 minutes for us to focus on one thing.

Here is a simple example: Let’s say you are focusing on one goal today(15 minutes), and then you suddenly worked on another goal(another 15 minutes), then you decided to work on another(15 minutes).

Those 15 minutes are the switching costs. The first 15 minutes is actually the most unproductive time when you are starting a project because you are still not focused on the said task.

What happens is that you are wasting your energy because it takes a lot of energy to be in focus. Another is that you are wasting time because those 15 minutes will be very unproductive.

I remember when I was making 4 websites. I always wondered why I didn’t progress with them even if I am working hard. I now know the reason, I was focusing on too many goals.

Right now, on any given day, I only have one goal. For this day, it is this website.

The next reason is actually distractions. When we have too many goals, we are usually distracted by our other goals when working on another.

It is like someone is telling you inside while working that there are things that you’re not working on. It is a constant battle. Plus, it doesn’t help.

So, here is the point.

Having more than 3 goals will fragment our goals a lot. It is best to only have 1 goal. If you are someone who is easily bored like me, then go for 3 goals. You can still make progress with 3 goals if you know how to handle them. In my How many goals should you have at a time article, I have discussed how we can be productive with 3 goals.

Now, let’s go to the introduction on how many goals should we have.

How many goals should someone have?

You should only have 1 to 3 goals at any given time. These amount of goals are the ones that produce the best results. While having only one is best, we can still get good results with 3 goals even if we are not good at multitasking. So 1 to 3 is the optimal number of goals we should have.

Once you’ve reached 4 goals, it will be hard to focus. It causes too many switching costs and it significantly reduces our time and energy to work on our goals.

Remember that in life, it is our focus that brings success. Success comes from focusing on few things. It comes from knowing what matters.

“The ultimate skill in goal setting is to know which among your goals matter the most.”

Jason Ong

With that, I recommend you read another article that teaches how to properly do goal setting. If you are really set on achieving your goals, it will make you 270% better in goal setting: How to Create a List of your Goals

As a summary, here are the reasons why too many goals are bad:

  1. Having too many goals causes a lot of switching cost
  2. We will only see little to no progress if we have too many goals
  3. Too many goals cause a lot of distraction
  4. We are not good at multitasking
  5. Working on too many goals causes energy drain and burnout

Jason

Jason Ong is a YouTuber and the one who owns this site. He shares what he learned with people and makes videos if necessary. He was a former lecturer. The things he taught are topics related to Clinical Laboratory Science or what others call Medical Technology. Right now, he is also working part-time in an app company as a production supervisor. You can visit his YouTube Channel on https://ongjason.com/youtube

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