Fab Fridays 27: Anti-Goals

What if we help kids set anti-goals?

Hey Everyone!​

Happy Friday and greetings from Panama.

I recently learned a new trick from Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s business partner, who stated, “Tell me where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.”

He’s talking about inversion: the idea that reversing a problem can help to solve it.

Here’s how Munger put it:

“Problems frequently get easier if you turn them around in reverse. In other words, if you want to help India, the question you should ask is not ‘how can I help India,’ it’s ‘what is doing the worst damage in India and how do I avoid it?”

Based on the concept of inversion, the co-founders of Tiny came up with Anti-Goals: a strategy to help you focus on what you don’t want so you can work out what you do want. For example, instead of describing what would make for the perfect workday, they thought about what the worst possible workday looks like:

  1. Full of long meetings

  2. Packed calendar

  3. Dealing with people you don’t like or trust

  4. Owing people things / not being in control / obligations

  5. Needing to be in the office

  6. Traveling

  7. Being tired

Working backwards from there, they made this set of Anti-Goals:

  1. Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone

  2. No more than 2 hours of scheduled time per day

  3. No business or obligations with people they don’t like

  4. Not giving up voting control of their businesses

  5. Work from a cafe where nobody bothers you

  6. More video conferences

  7. Never schedule morning meetings, sleep in when needed

​By thinking first of the things they wanted to avoid and coming up with Anti-Goals, solutions to their problems became more apparent.

I feel there is a way of connecting Anti-Goals to kids.

WHAT IF WE HELP KIDS SET ANTI-GOALS?

Most kids have no idea what they want. If you’ve talked to a kid, you probably know that it’s easier for them to think about what they don’t want than what they do. Yet so much time and effort goes into helping kids learn to set goals.

We used to spend the first weeks of school coming up with each student’s personal and learning goals. It was evident that the concept of stating goals doesn’t come easy for kids.

“What do you want to accomplish this year?” "What do you aspire to be?"

They have no clue.

The final product was a list of things that hardly represented what kids really wanted, and looked more like a compilation of ideas from teachers and parents.​

So if kids are struggling to come up with goals they truly care about, what if we turned the exercise around?

What if we ask kids to come up with things they don't want, and set Anti-Goals instead?

Here's a quick way you can try this at home. Ask your kids to:

  1. List the things they don't enjoy doing or what makes them unhappy

  2. List the specific steps they will implement to ensure these won’t happen (Anti-Goals)

I will continue to explore this idea and share what I come up with. In the meantime, you can learn more about Anti-Goals here.

Until next week!

Ana Lorena Fabrega