There is a huge piece about goal-setting that is rarely taught. The “why” you want the goal is critical on whether you will achieve it or not.

Desire-driven and ego-driven goals

If you have covered your survival needs, there are two categories of personal goals: desire-driven and ego-driven.

How can you tell the difference between the two categories?

Desire-driven goals make you feel excited.

Ego-driven goals make you feel lack and scarcity until you achieve them. Also, you feel colossal disappointment and ego injury if you don’t reach them.

You cannot tell whether a goal is ego-driven or desire-driven just by looking at the goal.

Getting promoted, for example, can be desire-driven for you if you love your job. You get excited about the added responsibility, scope, and remuneration. It can be ego-driven for me if I need the promotion to impress my friends or to feel good enough.

Ego-driven goals are the ones you feel you need to hit to show up with your head high in your next class reunion.

They can include from titles and promotions to revenue milestones and number of social media followers. We place our sense of worthiness on something external.

Sometimes teams and companies set ego-driven goals. Everything that includes being “the best,” is usually ego-driven. I have seen teams come up with the uninspiring vision of being the best sales team in the company, for example. That is good for the company but will it really fill them with a sense of purpose and excitement every day?

What is the problem with ego-driven goals?

The need for external validation can be a great driver. Does it even matter why we want our goals?

It matters. We are likely to fail if, instead of pursuing what we want, we go after what we think we need to feel worthy.

It is easier to understand this if you think about dating. Imagine that someone wants to date you because they need the validation of having a relationship. They want to prove to themselves and their friends that they are cool.

They do not feel good without a relationship. They do not really care about you. They think they need of a relationship to feel worthy. They will inevitably come across as needy, manipulative, or desperate.

Now imagine another person who wants to date you because they like you and think it would be fun to spend more time together. They feel good with themselves and on their own. But they would also love to be with you.

Who of the two people is more likely to be successful in dating you in this hypothetical scenario? I am willing to bet that you would not choose the needy person.

We become needy when we pursue our goals seeking validation. This is a turn off for employers, clients and investors.

It cuts deeper when we do not achieve ego-driven goals because we interpret the disappointment as not being good enough. We feel social rejection which hurts like hell.

But what if we succeed? Well, the news is not great here either. No external validation can make us feel OK and worthy if we do not feel it already. Once we achieve our goal, we will feel the dopamine hit for five minutes. And then continue to feel lacking because we have not yet reached the next milestone.

Choosing our goals

We are better off keeping the goals that feel exciting in our bodies versus those that fill us with a sense of scarcity.

Can we choose goals that do not clash with other people’s goals? Any awards and competitions for example have winners and losers. What if we thought in terms of collaboration instead of competition?

What if we aimed to be one of the greats instead of the best?

What if we chose goals that are good for us and good for everyone?

This is a great filter to pass our goals through. Is this goal good for me? Is it good for the people involved? Is it good for the world?

Ego-driven goals often involve beating others. Desire-driven goals come from a place of love: love for ourselves, others and the world.

When we come from a place of love, the world conspires to helps us achieve our goals.

Vision board

I updated my vision board this week as we are starting VisionPath on Monday. I wanted to have mine ready to show as an example to the participants.

I realized that I had to remove a lot of ego-driven goals I used to have like winning industry awards. I replaced them with the goal of having 10,000 happy alumni of The Leaderpath.

The industry award goal was binary. I am a loser until I win it. Also, it puts the power to someone else “choosing” me.

I move closer to the goal of reaching 10,000 happy alumni with every new client. I am always succeeding. It feels more purposeful as it focuses on the ripple effect my work will create in the world rather than a pat on my back. Those 10,000 people have families and teams that they will benefit from the work.

It is a goal that makes me and my team feel excited about what we do everyday. It is a goal that will create financial abundance for us and our families. Finally, it is a goal that does not take away from anyone else.

Questions for you

What are your inspiring, desire-driven, win-win goals? The ones that will give you purpose and pleasure? And, what are the ego-driven goals you are better off letting go?

Take care,


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