How Setting Anti-Goals Could Be Helpful In Planning Your Future

The benefits of setting and achieving goals have long been studied, and it is difficult to go through life without at least setting a few. Setting goals are impactful ways to motivate yourself, while achieving these goals gives a sense of accomplishment. This can apply to all aspects of life, from personal wellness to the workplace, and can improve your mental health. Whether they are short-term or long-term goals, there is little doubt that striving toward something is beneficial for individuals and society as a whole.


Setting goals often point back to the question with which many people struggle: What do you want to do in your life? It may seem as if people pose this question even to toddlers and continue to ask it even throughout adulthood. Perhaps knowing what you don't want to do could be a better starting point, when thinking about what you want out of life in the present and future. Enter the anti-goal.

Thinking about what you don't like can lead you to find time for what you do

We hear quite a bit about looking on the bright side of any situation and focusing on the positives. This is why, at first glance, anti-goals may seem negative or even counterproductive. However, sometimes focusing on what is making us unhappy in our lives can drive us to eliminate those things. Entrepreneur Andrew Wilkinson evaluated his life and realized that things he did not want to do were filling up his work day. This led him to pen the article titled "The Power of Anti-Goals: How I designed my perfect day by fixating on what I hate" on Medium.


"Anti-goals are about strategically avoiding what drains you," explains life coach and speaker Selena Rezvani on TikTok. "Knowing what these are can get you closer to having clarity about the kind of career you value most." Just like Wilkinson, Rezvani encouraged her viewers to think about what an awful day at work would include, rather than what a perfect day would. However, do not stop at just identifying what you hate about your job and simmering in anger.

Anti-goals can apply to relationships as well

Once you have identified the aspects of your job that you enjoy the least, Andrew Wilkinson says to trace back over the causes (per Medium). Find ways to lessen those points of irritation and, in turn, gain more enjoyment out of your work day. Setting "anti-goals" could help you tailor an existing job to better fulfill you, or lead you to entirely new jobs that align better with what you want to do. 


Maggie Zhou for Refinery29 takes anti-goals one step further. "There's nothing stopping you from setting anti-goals with the relationships in your life, from romantic to platonic," she states. Working out what you don't want in partners and friends can lead you closer to what you do want, just as it does in the workplace. Think of some common relationship red flags: those are definitely anti-goals too. So instead of planning out a perfect life that will only exist once you begin meeting goals, look into what might make that future life less than perfect — and seek ways to eliminate those obstacles to your happiness.