Money and Success Goals Are Social, Not Personal

One of the biggest traps is life is trying to achieve goals that only you will care about, such as making money or achieving success in your career. Yes, those kinds of goals can still create some ripples for others, but if your intention is mostly about you and your personal gains, I’d predict a lot of stuckness and stagnation for you.

I fell into this trap as well. In my 20s I thought my goals were well-intentioned enough. I was trying to get my computer games business going, make some money, and have a nice life in the field of game development. I certainly wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. But I didn’t really care much about what happened beyond my immediate sphere. That seemed logical at the time, but I realized later that it was an irrational approach.

When I thought about goals back then, they were personal goals. I set fitness goals and financial goals and relationship goals. I achieved some of them, but the money and success goals always eluded me, even though at the time I made them a high priority.

What I didn’t realize back then was that money and business success goals are social goals, not personal goals. Do you see that?

Suppose you lived on an island by yourself. What sense does it make to set financial and business or career goals? There’s no economy. There are no social constructs. Such goals are meaningless.

Try Service on for Size

In 1999, mostly out of desperation, I decided to start volunteering in a nonprofit association. I was a member for a few years but never did much with my membership other than receiving the monthly newsletters. I recognized that something was terribly wrong with my previous approach to success because my results were terrible – lots of debt and then bankruptcy – even though I invested a lot of time and energy in the business.

I finally surrendered to the poor results I was getting and decided that I should explore new directions, if only to gain experience with other modes of living. Anything looked better than the stressed and frustrated mode of working hard on goals that I wasn’t achieving.

So I began volunteering and helping people more without worrying about personal gains. I began writing articles that same year, starting slowly at first. This totally turned my life around within a year. Sometimes it’s good to take a blind leap into unexplored areas when you aren’t getting results you want from what you’ve been doing thus far.

This attitude and practice helped me achieve what I previously thought were my personal goals. Every year since then I’ve been writing articles and seeking to be of service in other ways, which have created many ripples for other people. I know that because many of them tell me. And every year since then has been pretty financially abundant. This year will likely be the best ever in that regard.

What blocks a lot of people from being more service-oriented is that they can’t see the logic behind it. When you’re so concerned about your own gains, how are you possibly supposed to free up even more time and energy to help others on top of that?

I understand that mindset since it used to be mine. It’s an ineffective mindset though. It seems rational, but it isn’t. Is it getting good results for you? Do you see it working in your real time? Or does it only seem logical in an abstract way?

Do you really think that money and success will flow into your life because you’re hyper-focused on your own goals and needs? Great… try doing that alone on an isolated island. That should give you the best focus since no one will be there to distract you. See how far you get. What you don’t realize is that you’re essentially acting out this metaphor in real life if you regard financial and success goals mainly as personal goals.

Being hyper-focused on your personal goals for personal reasons can work in some areas of life, but it’s unlikely to get much flow going for more social goals. Financial and success goals are inherently social.

Success Is Social

Money flows from other people. Any evidence of your success, including having customers and clients, flows through people too. If you can’t achieve such goals without other people’s cooperation, doesn’t it make sense to deliberately invite their cooperation instead of just hoping it will happen?

When your goals are mostly solo, that creates friction and resistance. People aren’t likely to spend money to help you achieve such goals unless you provide a decent reason for them to care. Your own success isn’t a decent reason; it’s a pretty pathetic one actually.

Other may spend money for own their personal priorities and interests, which probably doesn’t include helping you succeed. But they may be very willing to spend money in order to participate in an interesting social flow that’s extends beyond you and them.

A simple way to sum this up is that you’re likely to receive way more help by reaching out and caring about others. If you focus on what only you want to receive, virtually no one will care to help you.

You want more abundance flowing to you? It flows from other people. And if they don’t care much about helping you, you’ll find it 10X more difficult to get that flow going, maybe 100X. Everything you try to achieve will be self-powered, and self power is weak.

You can test living in a more service-based mode for a few years like I did, but admittedly that can become draining after a while. I put in hundreds of hours in volunteer effect, and while it did help me turn things around, it’s hard to give, give, and give more.

For me this was an example of swinging the pendulum. I got terrible results from certain personal goals, so I wanted to see what would happen if I went into full-on service and volunteer mode to the extent that I had the time and energy to do so. That did improve my results very quickly, especially because it opened me up to a world of networking in my field. By reaching out to help others, a lot more people reached out to help me, such as members of the press who helped my games get more attention or other software developers who gave me good marketing advice.

Throw a Party

So what’s a good way to balance the solid social benefits of service with the inner drive and ambition of working on your personal goals?

Basically you throw a party. A good party is fun for you and for everyone else. Fun is a great binder because it’s personal and social.

There are many different kinds of fun, so you have lots of options for what kind of fun you want to create. Your party could be entertaining, amusing, playful, sexy, mentally stimulating, rowdy, etc.

The key is to recognize that a good party is both personal and social, especially if you host it in your home.

A good party is also very sensitive to the people you invite. You’ll need the right people to make it work. Invite the wrong people, and your party may become boring, creepy, frustrating, or some other form of bad.

A party is also sensitive to a good invitation. If your goals are entirely personal, that’s like making this offer:

You: Hey, I’m having a party at my house on Friday, and you’re invited!

Friend: Oh I love parties! What kind of party is it?

You: I’m inviting a bunch of people over to help me achieve my personal goals. We’ll have chips and guacamole too (as a lead magnet).

Friend: Umm… okay. Who else is coming?

You: Just me so far. Everyone keeps saying they’re busy.

Friend who’s about to ghost you for life: Okay, well I’ll try to make it, but I might be having surgery that day, so I’ll let you know!

How is that kind of offer working for you so far?

If you make equivalent offers in business and life, people will ghost you. Life will ghost you. That isn’t because you’re not a good person. It’s because you made a ridiculously lame offer. Everyone knows that wine is a much better lead magnet. 😉

If you want more money and success flowing through your life, don’t focus so much on trying to acquire and achieve. Think instead about throwing parties and inviting people with fun, interesting, and stimulating offers. Direct your ambition towards creating nice social flow.

Think about the people and businesses that you love to patronize. Think about the best companies or fields you’d love to work in. Can you see how their perceived invitations and offers are more interesting than just, Come help us achieve our goals? We wants moolah! That isn’t a typo, Dimi. 😉

When you host a party and invite people to it, everyone wants it to be a good experience, so your intentions are nicely aligned. You may still need to do some boundary management to make sure people don’t trash your home, but that mainly comes down to inviting the right people who can agree to your standards.

One of the greatest areas of stuckness among my readers stems from trying to work on personal goals that would work so much better when framed as social goals. When you do that, you have to self-power everything. It’s like hosting a party all by yourself and trying to make it fun and interesting all alone, with no one to help you, and with no guests participating. Then you may tell yourself that once you have a really good party going alone, then you’ll finally invite some people. What you don’t see is that people are the party.

In business and life, people are the success. People are the money. People are the fun.

The best part is that you don’t have to figure out all of the party details by yourself. You can co-create an awesome party together. It all starts with your intention. A party based on your personal goals isn’t likely land well. So step back and create a more aligned intention. Start telling people you want to host a fun party, and ask them if they’ll help steer you in the right direction. Ask them what would make them happy to attend? Listen. Involve them. Even if you only talk to one person about this, that can build momentum.

I’m hosting such a party right now – a character sculpting party where we all connect online to work on diagnosing, understanding, improving, enhancing, and upgrading our characters together. All for one and one for all. It’s intellectually stimulating and also playful as we explore the characters we’d most like to become, and then we work on becoming those characters for real. So far 266 people have opted into the party this year, and 150 others were already pre-invited, so there are 400+ people already inside. Fortunately I have a big house. 😉

What I’d really love for you to grasp is the mindset of moving beyond framing your goals as strictly personal and opening yourself up to the world of social flow. Most of the good stuff you want in life will come from this social flow, so it’s wise to stop trying to achieve your goals by acting like you’re on an island bouncing ideas off a shredded volleyball. If you honor this social flow and learn to appreciate it, you’ll achieve your goals more easily, and you’ll have a lot more fun in life as well.

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Read Money and Success Goals Are Social, Not Personal by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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