I Only Have One Real Goal.
But I hit it every single day
This won’t be for everyone. I know that because every morning I wake up to a world obsessed with billionaires.
Who started the billionaire thing? Was it that lady who wrote 50 Shades of Grey? I swear there are six new articles about billionaires every day. “The Habits of Billionaires” “The Breakfast of Billionaires.” “How Billionaires Use the Toilet.” I don’t get it.
Maybe it’s due to my Goodwill-wearing, school lunch-packing roots, but I don’t have billionaire dreams. Do you know what I want? I just want to have good days, preferably several in a row. I’m simple-minded like that, I guess.
So, my biggest goal has nothing to do with money or business or billions. I need something real. Something tangible. I need something in front of me. Something I can accomplish in 12 hours or less.
The goal is only this: I want to learn one thing every day.
This seems too basic. But in an increasingly chaotic world that appears more meaningless, imagine if you narrowed your focus to reading, watching, or listening to something that just makes sense.
Do you remember how good it feels for something to make sense? Your soul sags with relief and your mind gushes with gratitude. “Thank God,” you think. “Something normal exists.”
That’s the feeling you get when you learn something new.
Yesterday I learned Thomas Hart Benton was the first senator to hold office for 30 years. He was kicked out in 1851. Want to know why? Because he changed his mind about slavery. Can you imagine a politician changing their opinion on something today? Wild.
Two days ago, I learned that Maine and Nebraska split their electoral college votes. Why don’t the rest of the states do that?
Three days ago, I learned that the words “this might not be for you” are actually some of the most enticing words you can possibly use to draw someone in. The human brain is bizarre.
Four days ago, I learned that I am not alone in defending Henry Thoreau’s laundry habits.
Will I ever use any of this information? Maybe not. But it’s interesting. I read it and my brain said “ahhhhh.”
To be crystal clear, my daily goal does not mean I don’t have tasks to get done every day. But the thing is — tasks take something from you. Learning gives. Tasks sustain your life. Learning makes that life worth living. Tasks give you direction. Learning gives you purpose.
Austin Kleon says “every time we make a thing, it’s a tiny triumph.” I like that. But even though I have been writing professionally for a decade, making things often feels like too high of a demand. I sit down and look and there is the blank page. Tiny? No. That thing is a mountain.
Learning, though, is the perfect size for a daily goal. You can learn with almost no effort. Tetris blocks of information fall through your consciousness each day. They don’t call this “The Information Age” for no reason. Find 30 seconds of attention to grab it, twist it to fit in the rest of your pile, and lock it into place.
Learning is a small thing. But it’s one of the few things in life you can control completely. Control matters.
When learning becomes your only goal, life is a beautiful trinity of existence: Wonder. Seek. Find. These are the building blocks of being human. We forgot about them a while back.
Here’s the dirty secret: You will probably forget tomorrow what I learned today. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. The brain is primarily a deletion device. If you read a whole book and remember one idea, that’s a good result.
Remembered or not, these little information Tetris blocks make up your life. What you understand — and ultimately believe — are nothing but the sum of insights you have day after day.
Anything like that is worth holding on to.