Is there a life without a goal

Success is not a goal! 🎯 How to set yourself “honest” goals with which YOU will be really happy



Many who strive too hard for outward success are insecure inside. You build fortresses out of jewelry, watches, cars or measurable, representable values: number of Facebook friends, likes, annual salary, title on the business card.

But in this article I'll show you how to set yourself better and more realistic goals and how to achieve them that make you really happy and satisfied - and that don't crush your motivation.






... you have found a completely free chapter from my new book "Your goal is in the way".

But CAUTION - this article is not for everyone as it may nudge your life in a new direction. Learn how to set yourself real, honest, relative and thus REALISTIC goals that you can achieve - and that you REALLY want to achieve.




Purpose or aim?

When I write a book, I talk to a lot of people about the content to make my writing as helpful as possible. So I gave a lecture on the subject of "Realistic Goals".

At the beginning I asked the audience a question:

"What are your goals?"

An elegantly dressed lady around 45 answered:

“I would like to make my style advice known beyond the borders of Munich. I want to expand internationally! "


… I said …

"... that's a nice goal!

Why do you want to do that? "

Remain silent.

Big eyes.

She looked at me in disbelief.

Then she replied with a determined "Uh ..." 🤯

The lady had set herself the goal of "international expansion", which sounded good, without really knowing why. I may be wrong, but in the brief interaction I got the impression that it was something that I "Ego goal“Call.

This lady probably wanted to serve the purpose of "recognition" with the aim of expansion. There is nothing wrong with that, each of us has one Basic need for social acceptance.

However, the goal did not seem well thought out, because it will be difficult to expand internationally with style advice. Style is something very personal and very different both regionally and internationally. A standardization of the service that is necessary for a branch office would be very difficult. In addition to this content-related challenge, there would be an economic show of strength: Expansion costs an enormous amount of time and energy.

The lady probably fantasized about standing in the midst of a crowd of interested people at a cocktail party in a chic tight blue dress and saying: "I'm the manager of an international style consultancy."

That sounds chic, no question about it. The lady wanted "success". She wanted to be admired as a successful business woman. But where was the soul, where was the content? Where was the fire in her eyes that burned for an idea, for a conviction?

The good lady has given little thought to the PURPOSE of the goal. Goals are set to serve a purpose.

Goals must have a “why” and match the effort.

In this case, the goal of internationalization might ultimately also bring recognition - but: what a show of strength! This goal is probably too high for their personal need for recognition, which would quickly reduce their motivation. And even if she achieved that goal - then it would probably soon feel empty again, because the status goal seemed to be just a patch on a deeper (bonding) need.


Success is not a goal!


Goals are nice, but not everything. Achieving a goal is often mistaken for success.

But goals are not the highest category that we actually want to achieve.

The successful literature has committed itself to “fixed, clear, catchy” goals as the ultimate in motivation. But the why of the goal is often overlooked or - because it is difficult to grasp - too little discussed.

But goals have a purpose! I set myself a goal because I want to go from state A to state B. Why I want to go there doesn't say the destination. I want to get away from an undesirable situation, I am driven by certain dreams or values, or something fascinates me.


Goals are only means to achieve an underlying purpose, to satisfy one or more underlying needs.


  • One purpose poses the question of “WHY?”.
  • One goal is the “WHAT?”.
  • The process is the "HOW?"

The rest of the chapter will look at some of the “why” and “what” aspects of goals. We examine the relationship between goals and needs more closely.




Soft goals

Who hasn't set out to become a millionaire at least once in their life?

But what is behind the numbers? What wish? Which of these brings you moments of happiness every day?

Such a millionaire goal is easy to set. But what for? Okay, a little more money will calm your nerves. Since I've had a steady income, I no longer get upset about a traffic ticket and now and then have a juicy steak. I make a few purchase decisions more easily and manage e.g. B. high-quality notebooks because thinking in them is more fun. Of course, I like this greater freedom.

Interestingly, it has Despite the relaxed financial situation, little has changed in how I feel every day. I became even a little more tired and stressed because I really wanted to maintain the new standard of living. I had a negative mood, was very critical and often fell into a somewhat withdrawn “Weltschmerz mode”.

Achieving my classic success goals like making money, writing a bestseller and having x-thousand blog visitors per month changed that: NOTHING. Such a sense of achievement is like an energy drink: It actually fires you up, you think you have wings, flutter away and after an hour with an insulin shock and a feeling of hunger, you slap back into the next energy hole.

In fact, happiness research confirms that people who have made a lot of money are not much happier. On the contrary, many are afraid that they will lose their status again. There are very interesting studies that show that having money makes people more withdrawn, lonely, and suspicious.

After an euphoria about success, our brain soon normalizes its hormonal balance. What has been achieved is “priced in” and now viewed as given. The basic emotion, the "Basic feeling of life", returns. In other words: I now had my finances and my time management under control - but I still felt driven and rushed, even though I had more time and resources!

The basic emotions we have learned are powerful engines that just keep going, even when the original motives are gone. It wasn't until I started working directly on these feelings of stress that I became happier, more balanced, and more relaxed.

Too many people run through life on a “blind mission” and forget that they also live here and now, and not just in the future. Therefore, it would be smart to mix soft “how-do-I-feel-myself” goals with your “hard” goals on your way.

I had a seminar participant who came to me because he absolutely wanted to achieve his goal of “earning one million euros by 2030”. But through the impulses, reflection and discussion in the seminar, he realized that he was doing it over-focused and would be quite stressful on the road. He rethought and then set himself (also) softer goals, which were more related to the moment and to his sense of happiness:


Here is his adapted list of happiness goals:
  • Show a lot of interest in other people
  • An even more conscious way of dealing with
    Develop time and money
  • Not completing tasks
    if it is not absolutely necessary
  • Develop more confidence and serenity in everyday life
  • Develop better access to your own intuition
  • See the world more from the perspective of others
  • Bringing about beautiful moments in everyday life on a regular basis


This list touched me very much. I found it much more exciting than this typical, little-reflected “I-want-to-make-a-lot-money” goal. In fact, it is probably even harder to achieve a goal like "developing love for all the people in me" because that requires real personal development work.

His goals were now more focused on the process and the moment. Every day he can live a little further to his goals and does not have to wait until the year 2030. Of course, he will continue to pursue his professorship and will certainly also earn well. But he seemed a lot more relaxed to me and went home with that wonderful, calm, self-satisfied smile on the evening of the seminar.

Keep the following distinction in mind:

  • Hard goals define what you want to own at some point.
  • Soft goals relate more to the here and now.

Everyone is talking about work-life balance. A good work-life balance, however, is fed by a good mix of softer “now” and more tangible “later” goals. Looking for both types of goals helps you go through the week more calmly and happily - and also to become more relaxed on the way to your larger goals.

That's the beauty of soft goals: They serve to make you You can and may be happy NOW, regardless of whether you will only achieve your big dream or goal in a few years.

Soft goals are luck goals!




External vs. internal success

I always thought I was a big fish because I wrote a bestseller and was able to make a living from my book. Then I heard from friends that there were some imitators. I saw that they were very much oriented towards my words and content and that flattered me at first. But then I discovered that one of these copycats had over 100,000 Facebook followers! 😱

Suddenly my inner “I-am-a big-fish-feeling” shrank to the size of a goldfish. I've been in the business a good five years longer and only had * gulp * 2,500 Facebook fans.

The colleague was significantly larger, more visible. People knew him.

But who is more successful? Him or me

The thing bothered me. That is not a question that can be absolutely answered. You're comparing celery to chocolate beans.

How do you absolutely measure success? Sure, numbers seem handy. But they say nothing, except that they are easy to manipulate. Especially in the social media area, because here you can buy thousands of fans for a few euros in a few days. The point is: Outward success has little to do with how it feels inside. Rather, success has to match your values, your metrics.

How can we measure that? As an approach to this question, I clarified my basic desires and values. What do I want in the long term?

For example, I noted:
  1. I want something Permanent work. I want to be able to see the results of my work for a long time. And I want with my products otherhelp, to move forward as well.
  1. I want mine after a few stressful years Workloadto reduce and have more time for myself, my travels and friends.
  2. I would like To learn new thingsand grow personally. I want to bring what is inside of me to the outside. I want to test as many of my ideas as possible and get my horsepower on the road.

You can't see my success from the outside. I'm not a social media star, I don't wear expensive watches or a suit, but instead € 5 sunglasses. Nevertheless, I can judge my success in terms of MY standards / my long-term goals:

  • I've written a few books, so I've created something that lasts. They sell by referral because people find them helpful. Point 1: Check!
  • I travel six to seven months a year and sometimes live in Brazil, Colombia and Asia. I also have to tact, save and plan, but to a large extent I do what my heart desires. Point 2? Yep!
  • I have a wide range of experiences and personal experiments in different areas of life. I learn something about myself and the world every week. Number 3? Bingo!

A change of perspective also helps. Is what you are fighting for right now what you really want in the long run? I therefore occasionally ask myself:

“How would 80-year-old Martin decide in this situation? What would he advise me? "

If a stone falls on my head tomorrow and this inconvenient incident pushes me under the lawn for the rest of my life, I want the eulogy to honor my successes with this damn sentence:

“Martin lived his life to the full. It may not have always been easy for him, but he fought to make his dreams come true and to keep developing. "

Okay, that could be phrased a little nicer, but something like that would conjure up a last satisfied smile on my already cold lips.

I'm not saying that my definition of success should be yours. I hope, but you will see how you can calibrate your inner navigation system to north yourself. In any case, this balance helps both internally and “backwards” in terms of your own satisfaction and self-confidence.

This brings us to the answer to the question: Is my competitor now more successful than me?

No idea. To do this, I would have to know his values ​​and goals in life. After writing these passages down here and being more certain of my long-term goals, I suddenly don't care a lot about my competitor. I see that I am on the right course FOR ME. Only that counts!

Admittedly, I glance at my competitors' numbers every now and then, and my throat chuckles for a moment. I think that's a perfectly normal human thing. In these cases I try to actively remind myself of MY definition of success and my goals and values.

Let's try a definition:

Outward success is a more visible or apparent success.

Inner success is when you find your own course and (despite social influences, detours and setbacks) always find your way back to it.

Outward success is not a bad thing, but it harbors the risk of dazzling and being more apparent than real. Just be a little more mindful of these external "successes".

In addition, an excursus with rabbit ears ...


Which rabbit has the thickest carrots? 🧐

Many who strive too hard for outward success are insecure inside. You build fortresses out of jewelry, watches, cars or measurable, representable values: number of Facebook friends, likes, annual salary, title on the business card.

Nothing expresses that better than this graphic that I have traced here in my personal Picasso style:

The hare on the left doesn't have much to show, but he owns a thick, tasty carrot under the ground. The hare on the right boasts of its lush soup greens, but it lacks the core, the actual edible fruit. Use “good feelings” or “joie de vivre” for carrots and the seemingly objective success variables “status”, “money” and “important-sounding title on the business card” for the grass.

Just notice how some people peddle their numbers.





Absolute failure, relatively a huge success

The distinction between external / internal success looks at the tension between “being” and “having”. It is more of a snapshot that asks: "What do I have / am now?" Or "What do I want to have / be at the time X?"

I would also like to suggest that we take our Measure success in terms of the process and differentiate between “absolute” and “relative” success. The question is: "Where am I on my way?" or "Where do I come from?"

I know a young woman who wants to go to university. She lives in a developing country, in Cuba. She only discovered her desire to study when she was in her mid-twenties and now she really needs to severeEntrance exam for career changers.

She spent three months preparing intensively for these three exams - but failed the math exam. She only achieved 23 points - but 60 would have been necessary for admission to the course.

She failed the exam. In absolute terms, it failed.

But is it really a failure?

We can only judge that in relation to where it comes from.

Betsy grew up in a village, she comes from a farming and working class family. Her mother earns 17 euros a month, her father does not have a permanent job.

For a long time she had a severe self-blockade, partly due to cultural reasons: Cuba sounds cool and may be a popular travel destination.But the state in the country is desolate. The country has been largely excluded from world trade for decades, and there are hardly any technical developments. Cars from the 1950s are still driving around, and free internet has only been around for a few months. No matter what you do in Cuba - there are hardly any opportunities to make money. Even if you did - haha ​​- there is nothing to buy! There are no supermarkets, and apart from cigars, rum, noodles and a few overpriced imported goods (jar of cucumbers: 6.00), the small shops offer one thing above all else: lots of free space.

Many people in Cuba are understandably subject to "learned helplessness", the type of mental block that I described in Chapter 1 with the frog metaphor. And Betsy was right in the middle of it!

It took a little inspiration and some maturation before she realized that she was intelligent and could make a difference of her own. Since her school days she has not read a single book and has not faced any exam situations. She had little initiative and motivation.

Although Betsy was so scared of an exam that she wouldn't even let the thought of trying it for five years, in the end she managed to prepare for it for three months and actually show up on day X. What progress!

If you look at the list of results for all test subjects, it is in 24th place out of 48 test subjects. So 23 are behind her: Some have even less points, many have not even started because of test anxiety. So it's not bad at all - on the contrary. It is exactly in the middle.

She only achieved “23 percent” in absolute terms, but relative to her starting point she felt that she had made 500 percent development progress. The number is of course completely out of thin air, but it is clear that the leap in personality development is ENORMOUS.

The job is done! She has learned to focus, to deal with frustration and insecurity and, above all, has faced the previously totally paralyzing fear of failure. And she has gained some experience and points that she can now use in a second attempt.

The seeds are sown. The embers ignited. With the experience and new self-confidence, she already has hundreds more options than before.

Passing the exam would have been just the icing on the cake of an impressive development process.




Steve Jobs vs. Hans Fischer? ... Hans who? 🤷🏼‍♂️

A further distortion of our goals occurs when we orientate ourselves too strongly on wrong - or let's say too big - role models.

The media report big ones Respectively by great people like Mozart, van Gogh or Steve Jobs. But in doing so they convey a wrong picture of what we are asNext reachable. Because we look there at a few brilliant moments and the highlights of their careers. Think about what you are doing unconsciously: You are at the very beginning, but you compare yourself to life's achievements! Is that really motivating?

There is a so-called “survivorship bias”, that is, only people and actions survive in the collective media memory who have “made it”. All of the people who have tried to become Olympic champions, president or Grammy winners will fail us.

In addition, we only see part of the picture in the case of the successful. We admire Mozart, van Gogh or Leonardo da Vinci. Mozart was very poor during his lifetime. Van Gogh as well. Well, Leonardo da Vinci was known during his lifetime - but even he hardly earned any money with his visionary ideas and drawings. He lived mainly from orders as an architect of fortifications and lived in old age as a kind of flagship mascot at the court of the French king.

In addition, it is difficult to replicate the successes of others. For an inspiration, they're okay to see: It gives a way to the top. But these success stories usually don't have much in common with our lives. We have a different point of view, different values, different environments, different resources, we live in a different time - we have to find our way anew.


Watch the processes, not the deeds

Mankind admires Steve Jobs for his vision and great products. But what we admire is the result. If we follow the “dream big” motto, we just have to feel small and incapable. But Steve Jobs didn't say “I want to invent the iPhone in 30 years” when he and his friend were screwing together their first computer in his garage - the development came out of a long one (Learning) process.

The attitudes and development steps are more interesting than the end results: How do the successful people control their processes? How are they thinking? How do you decide? These are the things that I try to read from biographies and reports about "great" people.

We have to find our own means, ways and ends. And these should start with ourselves, our situation, our current position. Instead of sticking to great role models, it would be helpful to also orientate yourself on people from your own environment.

One of my role models was z. B. Hans Fischer. My grandpa. He was an old gymnast and at the age of 80 did ten pull-ups and a few exercises on the high bar and parallel bars, which still scare me today when I do them again.

I admire his self-discipline and willpower. Despite age, heart defects and pain, he stood in the gym three times a week and did his jogging, stretching, gymnastics and strength program in all weathers. In his mid-70s, he practiced the handstand rollover with me, a very dynamic strength element. When he wanted to do a flick-flack, the hall attendant threatened to call the police.

Since I have experienced and accompanied my grandfather in various life situations, I can now transfer his character traits to new challenges of my own.

The question "How would my grandpa have solved this problem?“Comes quickly and intuitively. The question “What would Steve Jobs have done?” Doesn't help me much. I don't know enough about him. Who knows what he really thought and what is only suspected by journalists and biographers. He might have sucked LSD, meditated, talked about great visions and then shit his team together. But I don't have a team, and I'm certainly not building an IT company. Except for Steve Jobs' bite, I can't do much with him as a role model.

In addition, we just don't know what the famous heroes really were like. Tim Ferris, who proclaims the “4-hour week” with his bestseller, turned out to be an absolute workaholic on closer investigation and after a personal encounter. If you look at all of his activities, it seems as if he can barely sit still for a minute.

Since we only have limited brain capacities under stress, it is easier to call up and use real-life model scenes. Concretely experienced images, words, situations, reflections, emotions are more tangible and therefore more exemplary than abstract quotes from Einstein, Elon Musk or other greats that I will never meet in my life.

That's why I oriented myself more towards my friends. When I don't know what to do next, I ask myself:

“What would Moritz do now? Okay, he wouldn't think anymore, he would just try the first thing that could be done. Well, then I'll do it like him and see what happens ... "

My train of thought is something like that. It helps me to get out of my own skin and to get around my blockade of action. In a sense, I put the decision in someone else's hands (or heads), but that's exactly what helps me to jump over small hurdles.


“Weak role models” can have a strong impact

In contrast to the successful literature, which always looks up, I also find it very helpful to take old and sick people as role models. During the stressful studies I often thought of my 90-year-old great-grandmother who was at home all day and actually her whole life, doing her housework or watching TV. She was a satisfied, balanced woman - without any career or studies. Sure, the coffee parties with her weren't the most exciting conversations - but they gave me calm, grounding, confidence and strength. I thought to myself: "Oh, that can also be a life plan, why do I stress myself so much?"

In addition, I specifically look for contrasting views of life in order to adjust my own a little. So now every year I go to a monastery for a week to mediate and talk to the monks there. It's really relaxing how complacent these people are - even though they have almost nothing, deserve nothing, don't strive for much. These people are so relaxed because they do not chase ego goals, but only pursue very modest, soft goals.

I'm not saying that not having goals is my way of doing things. I love challenges! But now I'm more careful to keep the balance between being motivated by goals and the point at which my ambition starts to stress me out.


Role model cherry-picking

Caution: Even with role models that are close to you, you can slip if your idol's behaviors do not fit your goals and purposes.

My grandfather was a great person. I see him before me, how he has opened so many doors with stubbornness and mischievous approach. But his self-discipline and willpower also over-motivated me to a large extent and almost drove me into burnout. Because I just unconsciously adopted the processes that I had learned while doing gymnastics for my studies and work life. But learning and work processes are different from mechanical muscle and movement training.

Besides, I'm not my grandfather either. He is not my absolute role model, I only use two to three of his positive qualities as resources in suitable situations. And only when I need it. I do Role model cherry-picking.

So I only look at my role models for the ways of thinking and behaving that are useful to me right now. A resource here, an idea there. And preferably from situations that I have experienced with these people in my life.



A kind of lifestyle guide for people who want something!

Nora Springisfeld, Berlin






Workshop and exercises


Setting the right goals and achieving them - exercises

>> Workshop:
How do you set more realistic goals?

Set your expectations and goals where you are. Pay attention to where YOU are from. If you make your goals - and with them your reflection, your assessment of your path - more realistic in this way, you will notice that you win even though you lower your expectations. You gain serenity, satisfaction and free up energy for moments of happiness and spontaneity.

Marketers should also ask themselves whether their superlatives like “the best”, “exclusive” etc. really gain trust. With freelancers, you often see a “we” or “about us” on the website. But it is crystal clear that their “agency” consists of only one person. That doesn't seem professional, but impersonal. (Unless the person is schizophrenic.)

We authors and coaches also gain impact when we keep our balls flatter. At least I am taking this idea into account when I am writing a new book with a colleague. It will be about “courage”. When discussing the title and the concept, we naturally came up with some terrific comparisons like: “Be brave like a lion” or “be strong like X” (use a superhero of your choice).

But then I said to Steffen:

“Let's make it more realistic and approachable. Let's just promise "30 percent more courage". That is concrete and more tangible. And starts where people are right now. "

Because if you're a shy coward, you won't come out of a courageous seminar and suggest to the five neo-Nazis across the street that they should rethink their taste in fashion. You will not become a revolutionary leader. But you may be more confident to raise your hand in the lecture and ask a question. Hopefully you will then be better able to tell your friend that you are bothered by his cheese masonry on your coffee table. Or you separate yourself more clearly from a talk bag from next door.

Relative goals and development goals start where WE are. Therefore, they are more realistic to achieve per se.



Hand on heart - please check your goals:

  • Are they “violence comes out goals”?
  • Do your goals take into account where you come from, where you currently stand and how many resources (time, energy, nerve power) you really have available at the moment?