Three Goals and Charles Duhigg

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It’s Thursday again, and time once more to look at those habits I’m building into my life through repetition.


I’ve heard it said that repetition is the only form of permanence we can attain in this life. I think it’s true.  Change is ever nipping, nipping, nipping at our heels, and much of what we face in life we are powerless to control, but we are not helpless.  We can control ourselves.  One of the fruits of spiritual connection is the promise that we will master our urges.

Surrender to a plan, a program, my God, and a teeny, tiny bit of commitment to stay the course and keep focused on my goals will get me there.

We all have goals.  My teeny, tiny three show up here on my blog every Thursday.  Yours may show up on pages in your journal.  Maybe you share your goals with your significant other, or a support group, or a trusted friend.  Wherever we share our goals, no matter how formally they may be shared or not, we all have something we are striving to attain.  For me, it is creating winning scenarios that build confidence.


I’m currently reading Charles Duhigg’s genius book, Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, and I’m loving it. I have often hawked his previous best seller, The Power of Habit, here.  I love, loved that book and this one is just as informative.  I’m a big fan of HABIT and all the good it can do, especially as it unconsciously moves us through life, but it does seem to have a down side.  Doesn’t everything?


What does Charles Duhigg’s book have to do with my goal list this week?  Just this:  In this newest book by Charles, he talks about the ugly downside of goal setting.

What is that downside?  Closure!

You’ve all heard the word “closure” and probably most often in the sense of ending relationships or the death of loved ones, especially those taken from us suddenly or by violent means.  But closure as Charles refers to it in the book is all about that “Ahhh” moment one gets when a project is finally finished.  It is a feeling I know well.

I am very goal oriented and very methodical, so much so that I adore the “Ahhh” moments of life.  You know them, right? They are what you feel when you’ve read the last page on a good book, or written that final stance of your poem. They come when the ironing is done, the cake is decorated, and the baby is bathed with clean jammies on, laid down for the night, and finally off to the land of nod.  “Ahh,” you say, either consciously or unconsciously (and you might pour yourself a glass of wine).  That sigh you let escape your lips as you fall back into the bed stead after performing mattress gymnastics–its all part of closure.

Charles said that “Ahhh” moment can be good, but it can also be bad. 

The “Ahhh” moment is bad when it becomes your single most loved motivation for what you’re doing. It’s bad because it clouds your judgment.  It makes you narrow minded.  It causes you and me to fixate on the end that we’ve chiseled out for ourselves in our creative minds.  It makes acceptance of other possibilities hard to envision, and of course that means disaster.  It’s incredibly hard to shift gears when you have a hard goal in mind, and even harder when you crave the closure of an “Ahhh” moment.

True story:  I got pregnant for my second child because of a constant lack of an “Ahhh” moment during the work day.  Obviously, that wasn’t the only reason, but it didn’t hurt that I hated that job!  It didn’t help, either, that my “office” was in a building with no windows and I was employed there during the NEPA winter months, so no sunshine for this girl for four months!  Mr was very happy that I quit that job, and I am too as I look on the face of a man I raised who I am very proud to call son.  All this to say, be careful about setting goals that reinforce closure over habit.  Those kind of goals kill brain cells.

My estimation, not Charles Duhigg’s, mind you.

LAST WEEK’S GOALS       (About time, right?!)

  • Exercise for 15 minutes every day this week, and eat my oatmeal every day.


  • Get blood labs done!

DONE, and the results were better than I ever could have anticipated. 5.7 A1C without diabetic meds.  Yay!!!

  • Do an inventory of my pantry this week and throw out anything that is expired or not regularly used by our family.

Oops! Note done.  I missed this goal while I was playing with the wee ones and celebrating Easter.  No problem. I will just set this as a goal for this coming weel.


  • Continue on with exercise and oatmeal every day.
  • Inventory pantry and throw out expired products.
  • Finish reading Smarter, Faster, Better and write a review.

Easy peasy!  These should be small enough for a WIN this week.  Keep me honest, though, and check back to see if I did what I said I would.

What goals did you set for yourself this week? Did you achieve them?





3 thoughts on “Three Goals and Charles Duhigg

  1. I’ve backed off this trajectory since retiring, because I spent so many years in a driven mode. I am thankful that I followed this course, because it helped me develop many skills along the way. Today, however, I look forward to a slightly slower pace without time restraints. My nature is to get things done, so reducing the “pressure” simply adds to the enjoyment.

    I recently mentioned something similar to the point you made in Charles Duhigg’s book. I spoke about Goals vs. Objectives where goals had finite end points and objectives had lifetime missions. I believe both are valuable, but I think people have a tendency to overemphasize short term goals which does cause “Closure” and forces a vicious cycle of ongoing “new” Goals to satisfy purposeful living. Personally, this would increase rather than decrease my stress level. Each person certainly views this concept from a different perspective. Everyone must find their own BALANCE.

    • In Duhigg’s book he talks about SMART goals and STRETCH goals, which is what I think you’re eluding to here. I can see the value in both. The book isn’t all about goals setting, though it is about living an intentional life and how those who do so, over time, are more productive than their counterparts. I’m enjoying the read!

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