The Goal is NEVER the Goal

Personal Development . 4 Min. Read . By: Devon Brown

Do you remember that Matrix scene where the young monk says, “Do not try and bend the spoon; that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… there is no spoon”?

Neo was confused by the boy, as I’m sure you’re confused by my “The goal is NOT the goal” declaration.

But I promise it will make sense to you by the end of this article, just as it made sense to Neo at the end of the movie when he made bullets stop in midair. 

What Does "Goal" Mean?

When people use the term “goal,” they are almost always referring to a desired outcome. An end result. A finish line. 

People usually view goals like this:

Goal Example #1: I want to lose 10 pounds.

Goal Example #2: I want to make $100k a year.

Do you see how those “goals” are actually desired outcomes? Yet desiring those outcomes isn’t going to make them happen. So, the goal isn’t to lose 10 pounds or make $100k a year. The goal is actually to take all the necessary steps to reach that outcome.

Let’s refer back to our movie reference to really bring this concept home.

An Old-Ass Reference

Now, I realize that The Matrix movie could potentially be as old as some of the people reading this, but it really is a great illustration of my message.

So, if you haven’t seen it and have two hours and sixteen minutes to kill, then go pop some popcorn, watch The Matrix, and come back! But, if you don’t have two hours and sixteen minutes to kill, then I’ll sum the lesson up for you here.

Here’s the quote again:

There is No Spoon

“Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… there is no spoon.”

Translation: The goal is NEVER the goal! 

What the boy-monk was trying to tell Neo is that it’s all about changing your perspective. Desiring to bend the spoon won’t bend the spoon, just like desiring an outcome won’t cause the outcome.

The rest of the quote from the movie goes, “realize…there is no spoon.  Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself.” 

Neo can’t force the spoon to bend with his mind-- that’s impossible! But he can “bend himself” to achieve the desired outcome. So, the actual goal is to “bend himself,” not the spoon!  

Are you starting to pick up what I’m laying down here?

You cannot force an outcome to occur. You cannot say “I want to lose 10 pounds” and will yourself to lose 10 pounds while sitting on the couch, watching The Matrix, and eating Butter Lovers popcorn. However, you can change yourself to lend to that outcome. 

What is the Goal?

If the goal is not the goal, then what the heck is?!

The TRUE goal is GETTING to the desired outcome. The OUTCOME is the end result and the GOAL is to take all the necessary steps to reach that outcome. 

The OUTCOME is the end result and the GOAL is to embody the habits that will direct you to your outcome and more! 

The GOAL is to create and embody the habits that will direct you toward your desired outcome.

Smart Goal Setting

The best way to change outcomes is to change habits. Therefore, the goal is to figure out what habits you need to change or form to lead you to your desired outcome. 

If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, what habits do you need to change? Well, your DESIRED OUTCOME and GOAL would look something like this:

My desired outcome is to: Lose 10 pounds

My goal is to:

  • Not eat Butter Lovers popcorn every day
  • Go to the gym at least 4 times a week
  • Burn more calories than I consume on a daily basis
Our habits determine our outcomes

The more detailed your goal is, the more clear you are on what habits you want to form, the more likely you’ll achieve your desired outcome. That’s smart goal setting.

The Goal is NEVER the Goal

The best thing about redefining what “goal” means is that you can achieve your goal every day!

Every day you practice your productive habits, you are reaching your goal! And those days will move you toward your desired outcome.

But the interesting thing is, your desired outcome may change! 

The actual outcome may look different than the desired outcome you started working toward. In many cases, the actual outcome will be even better than you’d hoped because you formed healthier and more productive habits that affect many aspects of your life. In some cases, the actual outcome will be very different because you adapted on a daily basis, adjusting as needed.

In a few cases, the actual outcome may be nowhere near the desired outcome. But at the very least, you will gain a valuable lesson. After all, you know exactly what habits you changed and now know what works and what doesn’t work. 

By achieving your goal on a daily basis, you adapt on a daily basis, which means you never have to start back at square one. Every day is a step forward. Every day is an opportunity to move toward your desired outcome.

Taking those steps and moving forward IS THE GOAL!

There is No Spoon

bent spoon

So, remember, there is no spoon. There is no one “goal” but rather a series of habits that will lead you to the desired outcome. It’s all about changing your perspective and bending yourself on a daily basis. It’s all about taking all the necessary steps to lead you in the right direction. 

That is the goal!

The ONE Goal I Can Absolutely Help You With...

While I know my fair share of stuff about goal attainment, I'm smart enough to know that I can't help you with everything.

If you have goals around things like fitness, advancing in the corporate world, or finding your soul mate... there are plenty of well-qualified people who can help you achieve those things way better than I could.


If one of your goals has anything to do with overcoming stage fright and becoming a great public speaker...


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Devon Brown (“Duh-Von” not “Dev-in”) is a speaker, author, entrepreneur, former hip-hop dancer, and World's #1 Event Emcee. Once described as a sort-of ‘MC Hammer meets Tony Robbins’; his style is 50% education, 50% entertainment, and 100% must-experience. Be sure to connect with Devon on social media.

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