• Jonny Parker

Joshua Medcalf Was Right — We Should Burn Our Goals…




In Joshua Medcalf’s book, Burn Your Goals, The Counter-Cultural Approach to Achieving your Greatest Potential, He proposes a question that is totally outside our culture’s norm.

“What if our goals were actually holding us back from becoming the people we want to be and achieving our greatest potential?” — Joshua Medcalf

Instead of focusing on arbitrary goals, what if we tried to focus 100% of our energy on commitments and controllable’s?

What are controllable’s? I am glad you asked.


Controllable’s are things we have control of in our life. Some examples of this can be:

  • Positive self talk

  • Constructive communication to others

  • Positive attitude

  • Following routines

  • Gratefulness

  • Showing respect

Joshua Medcalf makes the point that, when we decide on focusing on controllable’s, we will naturally close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

Unlike focusing on goals that are usually outcome-based, they tend to be outside of our control, which leads to increased pressure and decreased confidence. Unfortunately, our focus is generally on the outcome and not the process.

Ask yourself this, how much energy do you put into things you have no control in? Can that energy be better used in focusing on things you can?

It’s time to go against the grain.

Society will tell us that without goals, we can achieve nothing.

Life experts and leaders will propose the question, “What will people work towards if they don’t have goals?” Well, how about focusing on something that you can control immediately. Like mental toughness.

Having a great attitude, giving 100%, having integrity, showing gratitude regardless of circumstances. These are some controllable’s that we can focus on and be successful at.

What’s wrong with goals?

A goal is something that is to be attained in the future, usually things that are outside of our control, which means they are outcome-based.

Becoming the best salesman for the company at the end of the year.

Getting a scholarship to play a sport in college.

Earning a specific salary figure in a year.

Winning a championship game.

These goals all hold a measure of actions that can be controlled, but forces also determine them outside of our control.

“The fundamental principle is that outcomes are outside of our control. If we could control results then we would no doubt be the highest-paid commodity in the world! But we can’t.” — Joshua Medcalf

Why goals are scary

When we achieve or fail at obtaining a goal we have created in our lives, they have the potential of defining our worth as a person.

Failure to obtain goals can lead to negative self-talk, lack of confidence, and de-valuing ourselves as humans.

Our value comes from within, not from what we do or obtain.

But sports and talk shows tend to identify someone’s value according to their stats, awards, or mistakes. Society tells us that our value is attached to what we achieve or don’t achieve, which affects how we perceive ourselves.

“True satisfaction and fulfillment cannot be found through achievement.” — Joshua Medcalf

What do we replace goals with?

Joshua Medcalf proposes that rather than setting goals and focusing on the outcomes, we should create a compelling mission for your life.

  1. Create a mission for your life.

  2. List out commitments that are controllable’s

Joshua Medcalf uses a great example of a car salesman who doesn’t let numbers drive them. Instead of being number-driven, they are people-driven. They see that selling a car to a family will bring improvement to their lives in efficiency and safety. They focus on providing the best car for their needs, not his wants.

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, to step away from what society deems as a success. Be different, do different, take the path that is less traveled, and knows that your value is not in your achievement of goals but in who you are and the legacy you leave behind.

“By letting go of goals and focusing on commitments, controllable’s, and true mental toughness there’s more accountability because unlike outcome-based goals, our commitments are 100% inside of our control.” — Joshua Medcalf
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