Motivation and Inspiration

How Anti-Goals FORCE you Stick to Habits and Achieve Goals

Are you looking for a way to permanently change your habits and a better way to maintain massive motivation to achieve your goals?

Look no further than anti-goals.

Anti-goals are the way to create fuel to work on your goals long term. Goals and ideas come and go, but anti-goals will stick with you for life and take charge of your daily actions. They are powerful!

After all, why do most people go to a job that sucks and deal with a boss they hate every single day? They’re scared of not being able to provide for their family.

And why do you wear your seat belt every day? Do you have a goal of getting moderately hurt in a crash? No! You are scared of having some random event completely derail your entire life.

Being scared is powerful. Massively powerful. Here’s how to harness and take control of that power to make real, lasting change in your life.

What the heck are anti-goals?

Let me paint the picture by going back to my early career when I first got an inkling of exactly how powerful anti-goals are. As I looked around at my coworkers, I noticed there was a good number of them who had been in their same job for years. I mean their exact same job. And most likely their same chair. Some of these people had been there for 3 years, 5 year, 10 years, or 15+ years.

They complained all day. They were scared of change. And I was scared of them. More specifically, I was scared to death of becoming them.

I always had plans to work hard, be promoted, and achieve great things. But nothing fueled me more than avoiding this situation.

If I was in the same job for more than a year, I started getting agitated and scared. Am I turning into one of them? Am I going to be here in 3 years! Heck no! That was my fuel.

By the way, if you like the concepts in this article, be sure to check out my bestselling book Leave the Grind Behind.

Or get a whole box full.

Anti-goals are more powerful than regular goals

Anthony Robbins breaks down daily decision making at a subconscious level of either seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. I love the simplicity of this concept.

The thing is, nearly all success ideas and recommendations focus on the “pleasure” side of the equation because it’s sexier. Figure out what you want in life, then go get it. Bam! That’s exciting stuff!

But you know avoiding pain is much stronger. We all go to great lengths to avoid things we don’t like or that will harm us.

Imagine an overweight person sitting on the couch watching TV. Certainly they know they’d benefit by standing up and doing a simple jumping jack. Get some movement in while you watch. But it’s easier not to…

Now imagine that same person watching TV. What if a car comes crashing through the side of the house? Or even something simpler like a bee flying in through the window? Is that same person going to jump up and avoid whatever is about to happen? The reaction will be huge.

What happens when something bad occurs? We get a massive physiological response. We get a huge emotional response. We go to great lengths to avoid what scares us. We give survival instincts a huge amount of weight. Let’s take that fact and apply to getting the life you want.

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Daily habit compound you one of two directions

My good friend the habit is back. Every day, you’re making small choices. These choices build upon each other and compound to big results. Big results you’ll receive 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now.

Knowing what you want and also what you don’t want will make every decision that much simpler.

Here are three real-life examples that cemented this concept in my mind:

Door 1 or Door 2

One of my martial arts schools was in the same strip mall as a bar. On a Wednesday evening, walking in from the parking lot, it was pretty easy to pick out who was going where. Healthy, happy, confident, beaming people walked in one door. Leathery, slouched, old, run-down people walked in the other. Compounding choices. Do you work out or grab a couple of drinks after work. Seeing this defined the reality of these choices and one door literally became scary.

Gardening or Recliner

There are two types of retired folks in my life. It’s where they are and how they carry themselves. One group sits on a recliner all day, watches day-time TV at volume level 98, and that’s about it. One group is happy, healthy, vibrant, and enjoying their time. They may garden, paint, golf, travel, or whatever. They’re maximizing their golden years. Daily choices. Sitting on a recliner scares me, so I make daily choices now to avoid becoming that guy.

Wasting Life at Work

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours either at work, getting ready for work, or commuting to work. Going back to those coworkers we all have that have been in their same chair for years and complain about it scares me. Seeing people doing what they love…it’s not even work…that’s amazing. I know what I want and what I don’t want. If I’m not one of those people who is obnoxiously enthusiastic about what I do all day, what am I here for?

What scares me?

Knowing what scares me gives me huge motivation to do big things in life. To give you some food for thought, here’s a quick punch list of what scares me personally:

  • Being a chair-bound retiree
  • Being average
  • Not leaving a legacy
  • Being out of shape
  • Not experiencing what life has to offer…I don’t want to miss out on great relationships, travel, excitement, adventure
  • Being stuck in a stupid job I don’t like

When I finally pulled the plug and quit my job, I was scared. But, not like most people. I wasn’t scared about failing. I wasn’t scared about having to come crawling back if I screwed up. I was scared that by having a normal job, I was missing out. I was scared I was missing out on doing what I want to do in life. I was scared I was on a path to some money, but not huge money.

Staying in the standard corporate world became much scarier than leaving. Once I hit that realization, making the leap was easy.

Writing a book and having it fall into the abyss of hundreds of thousands of books on Amazon scared me! That’s why when I wrote Leave the Grind Behind, I spent the time and effort learning how to make it stand out. This anti-goal helped me make it a #1 bestseller in numerous countries and categories.

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Wait…what about positive thinking?!?

The Law of Attraction gurus out there are probably going to cringe at my notion of anti-goals. But by avoiding this topic completely, you’re missing out on one of the biggest motivating forces available to you.

I don’t want you to spend all day every day worrying about getting cancer, but I do want you to have a clear picture of what will happen if you don’t take control of your actions and habits. Harness that massive power and put it to use.

Be scared of embarrassment

Another powerful motivator…anti-goal…is embarrassment. Most people can’t stand being embarrassed. A great way to leverage this is to tell people your big, ambitious goals. Tell your coworkers that you’re quitting your job, launching successful businesses, and the world shall know your name!

If you fail and end up back in your Cog seat, you’re going to be embarrassed. That is a lot to eat. And believe me, you’ll do a lot to avoid it.


What scares you?

Alright, you probably saw this coming. It’s time for a list. Make a big list of at least 20 things that scare you. These are things that scare you long term. Write them down as follows:

  • Being an old, rotten couch potato who is stuck to a recliner with the TV blaring at 98 scares the crap out of me!
  • Having to come crawl back to my corporate job after I make a massive exit announcement scares me!
  • Releasing a book into the abyss of Amazon where it will never get noticed scares me!
  • Forget about just trying to find a girlfriend…what if I spend the rest of my life alone?!? That scares me!

Get writing.

See your anti-goals in action

Alright, here’s what really cements the power of anti-goals. If you want to quit smoking, don’t just say lung cancer scares you…you need to go to a hospital and actually see victims of smoking. Talk to them. Decide right there if you want to turn out like them. Is that stupid cigarette worth that future?

Go look at and talk to coworkers who have stagnated in their jobs for years.

Get out and see people who have made choices that snuck up on them. See what will happen if you don’t take big, fast action and stick to it.

Create and commit to your goals

After you’ve seen the reality of your choices, get to business and get positive. Commit to what you want. Commit to the daily actions that are necessary to live the life you want and avoid what you don’t.

Adjust your goals and actions accordingly.

And again, if you enjoyed this article, be sure to grab my bestseller Leave the Grind Behind. Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “How Anti-Goals FORCE you Stick to Habits and Achieve Goals

  1. Not wants are great motivation. I can vividly see the price of failure. What a waste. It must not happen.

  2. Hey Justin, your “I don’t want to be like this” list is eerily like mine! In fact I ticked all those boxes for the same goals! Although I haven’t used the term ‘anti-goals’, like you I frequently fast-forward to the future and imagine, “if I don’t go and do squats, I will wind up on a walker like the people at the nursing home where I volunteer” (strong legs being a marker for ongoing independence in old age). “If I don’t go and paint, I will lose my talent and not improve and I will be really kicking myself”. What you do repeatedly, you get good at. If you spend all your time on Facebook and Youtube and Netflix, that’s what you get good at – being a watcher. If you instead spend that time reading, cleaning out your drawers, taking the dog for a walk, chatting – in person – to a friend, you get: knowledge, a cleaner environment, a happy, lean dog, and social stimulation and brain food. I am a little older than you but use this technique all the time. Sure, sometimes I do choose to blow off painting and sit on the computer, but it’s more of a conscious act than a habitual one (and I do usually wind up regretting that little experiment, anyway). Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Thanks Mettaphorica and awesome to hear that! “If I don’t do squats, I’ll end up on a walker.” <- Exactly!! Great point on what we do repeatedly too.

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