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Setting goals for (my version of) success.

by Joel Hooks

There is this amazing conference in Las Vegas once a year called MicroConf. It’s a gathering of like-minded entrepreneurs that (for the most part) are boot-strapping their business. This means that they aren’t taking outside investment, specifically of the venture capital variety. It’s a spectacular event, with interesting talks, fun parties, and amazing conversations.

At one of the talks this year, the audience was told something to the effect of “If you aren’t meeting this metric, your business is on fire and you should probably quit.”

The question and answer section of the talk was filled with panicked questions from business owners who were in the “lol, fail” spectrum of the metric.

Egads! My business actually falls in that range too!

Am I a failure because my “churn rate” is high?

The answer is “no? maybe? probably not.”

The talk has made me consider the factors contributing to the idea of what a success is. It’s obvious that success is different for each person and/or business. What does success mean for me?

What metric determines success?

There are many paths to success, and for me that path doesn’t involve the typical trappings one might envision as required to be successful. Yachts, cars, mansions, a private island, a private party with Kanye… none of these hold my interest. For me, success means that I look forward to my day, and don’t dread tomorrow. Success is being able to spend weeks doing absolutely nothing, and not feeling stressed or guilty about it. My success is directly related to the amount of free time that I have to spend with my family and friends.

I love nice things! Don’t get me wrong, but the primary success indicator for me, however, is not maximizing revenue. My success metric is maximizing free time. The ability to do whatever the fuck I want.

These two factors overlap quite a bit. I get a big kick out of running a business. It’s actually quite a bit of fun, but as it happens, there is a lot of revenue potential “left on the table” because I just don’t feel like doing the activities that are required to make more money.

It would dig into my free time, or I don’t want to be an expert in a particular subject area. Maybe it is something that I consider boring and don’t want to have anything to do with.

It’s hard to express how much I appreciate the privilege that I enjoy to live the life I choose. Not everybody does.

Setting professional goals.

If “all the money” isn’t the goal, what is?

  • To use my success and privilege to help other people gain the freedom and joy that comes from maximizing free time.
  • To build a team of awesome humans that get to work on awesome projects and accomplish meaningful work.
  • To help others come to realize that work isn’t who we are, but it can be an interesting and engaging part of how we spend our time.

For most of my life I’ve defined my goals with respect to specific dollar amounts. That is more tangible, more concrete. Monetary goals make sense, and provide a very clear metric that you either hit or don’t.

For me, those goals have shifted away from specific dollar amounts, and into experiences and relationships I’d like to build. Into looking at money as a vehicle for facilitating free time. Time to relax and enjoy the brief glimmer of existence that I’ve been granted on Earth, and help others do the same.

I’m looking forward to working towards these new goals. It’s exciting, and fills me with joy.

Want to chat about this post? I'd love to hear from you.
You can find me on twitter , , or via email joelhooks@gmail.com