One Size Does NOT Fit All

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Goals, Strategy | 2 comments

If every reward was financially based, no one would ever have children. At least not on purpose.

This was the point I made to a coaching client after we completed the analysis for a new venture one of his friends planned to launch this year, with the hope that it would quickly be profitable. “He’s going to be disappointed,” my client summarized.

Not necessarily, I thought. I pointed out that the concept was still sound, was likely to attract an audience that would eventually grow, and in the meantime would provide a valuable service to people in an industry his buddy felt passionately about. “He just needs to change his expectation. If he thinks about it as his way of giving back to the industry, he could still reap meaningful rewards from doing it. It’s just that those rewards wouldn’t necessarily be financial.” It was then that I made the observation about rewards and children that started this story.

It’s the time of year when lots of individuals, groups, and organizations are setting new goals, and developing all of the plans that go along with that effort. But in my experience over the years, 95% of all goals are either financial or health focused. In recent years, you could add environmentally based goals to that list as well.

That’s an extremely limited list. Almost like buying all of your clothes from a one-size-fits-all store. When it comes to goals, one size does NOT fit all. Share on X

With so many headlines and so much click-bait focused on get-rich-quick and lose-weight-now schemes, it’s not hard to see how people can fall into this rut. There’s also Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where financial and health concerns help to form the foundational base of the pyramid. But once you have those basic needs covered (as my client’s friend has), there are a myriad of rewards to choose from when establishing new goals.

Here are just a few:

Service/Giving Back: From volunteering once a month to launching a new enterprise that makes life or work or even service itself a little easier for others.

Lifestyle: Many people pursue a round-number dollar figure (six-figure salary, million dollars in the bank, etc.) without giving much thought to the specific benefit that dollar figure would provide them. What if you have an arbitrary goal of ten million, but the things that would make you happy could be achieved for far less?

Protection: Replacing our roof was about the least exciting goal my wife and I have added to the list in recent years. But the protection of a major asset is a worthy undertaking, whether it’s a significant maintenance project, creating secondary systems, or fully preparing a crisis management plan before a crisis occurs.

Time: If given the choice between making another dollar or getting another minute, I would choose another minute nine times out of ten.

Geography: When people ask me about living in New Braunfels, TX, I tell them seriously that I would leave claw marks on this town if I ever had to relocate. I then joke, “But if you add a zero to my paycheck, I’ll move wherever you want.” The truth is it would take a lot more than that.

Accomplishment: While it’s uncomfortable to be horrible at some new skill while we struggle to become proficient at it, and then eventually to achieve expertise, there’s little else we do that offers the same sense of internal reward.

Legacy: It’s a basic human instinct to want others to still think about us warmly once we are no longer here.

Family/Friends/Significant Others: Our relationships enrich our lives in ways that money never could. Corny, but true. And that’s why (some of us) have children (on purpose).


  1. Austin

    Self-actualization is a smart basis to plan your goals around. That’s a great way to keep growing as a individual and to not get stuck on your basic needs.

    • Michael Devers

      Thanks, Austin. I agree and try to orient my goals in that direction as much as possible.


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