The Science of Goals Part 2

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 2 years ago

In Part 2 of this three-part presentation on the Science of Goals, Dr John Demartini explains incongruent and contradictory goals and how to avoid setting them; he looks at timeframes and the difference between vision, purpose, mission and goals.

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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 2 years ago


What is an incongruent and a contradictory goal, and how do we reduce the probability of setting them?


I like to use the example of a group of doctors I consulted for in the past.

One of them mentioned that he would love to have a multi-million-dollar practice while working only four days a week and six hours a day.

When we did the math and worked out the actual revenue he could generate in that time, it was closer to $600,000 under the current model and scenario he was proposing.

So, his goal of having a multi-million-dollar practice contradicted his goal of working four days a week and just six hours a day unless his model and scenario changed.

I explained that he would be wise to re-adjust all his goals until they were congruent and non-contradictory because the brain deletes them when it knows they are not achievable because they contradict each other.

Anytime you have a contradiction, it results in an internal conflict. Not to mention the fact that you can’t achieve it because it’s not numerically or quantitively possible.


Click below for the video of this article.




I recently had a client with bulimia who wanted to stop that behavior – that was her goal. Then she realized that she wanted to keep thin and eat whatever food she liked without gaining weight.

Her unconscious motives were saying one thing, while her conscious state told her to stop.

As such, we needed to work on uncovering her unconscious motives and ensuring they aligned with her conscious motives and true highest values to achieve her goal.


In the science of setting and achieving goals what timeframes are wise to consider?


If we take a very generic example here of a large factory and the various people working there, while very generalized, it may help to give you an idea of what I’ll later refer to as “space and time”.

Let’s look at a factory worker doing routine work that he perceives as mundane and monotonous. He is likely to do whatever minimum he needs to do to get his paycheck.

He’s likely to think from day to day or week to week and spend his salary as soon as he gets it.

The supervisor may think in terms of months, lower management may think in terms of a year, middle management in terms of a decade, upper management in terms of a generation, the CEO in terms of a lifetime, and a visionary in terms of a millennium.

In other words, the farther you go up the corporate accountability ladder the greater the space and time horizons will be required in your mind, the bigger and longer your vision and resultant goals.

Take a visionary CEO like Elon Musk, for example, who has a vision beyond his to-do list and what others thought was possible – a vision that extended beyond a decade and his generation and into the century and possibly millennium in which he lives.

Everybody has an average time and space horizon in which they live.

  • Anytime you live congruently in your highest values, your space and time horizons expand.
  • Anytime you love incongruently or down in your lower values and you try to be somebody you’re not, your time and space horizons shrink.

Immediate gratification is a shrunken space and time horizon.

At the same time, a long-term vision is a broadened space and time horizon.

When you live by your highest values, it’s an intrinsic or inner value that you spontaneously want to act on without needing extrinsic or external motivation.

However, when you’re pursuing lower value fantasies and goals you move down more into your amygdala, you are far more likely to need extrinsic motivation in the form of reward or punishment to get you to do it. As a result, your space and time horizons shrink, and you have very small timeframes.

Anytime you set a goal that is BEYOND your timeframe, the space and time horizon you’re functioning in, you will tend to hesitate, procrastinate, and frustrate in the achievement of it unless you strategically plan it into more manageable and achievable bite-sized chunks and link it to higher valued more meaningful objectives.

For example, when I was 18 years old and decided to overcome my learning and reading challenges, I committed to reading and learning 30 words a day out of my dictionary.

The process involved saying the word, spelling it, putting it in a sentence, and making sure I truly understood the meaning.

I’d practice those 30 words a day with the help of my mom, who would test me to help me be certain that I had reached my goal.

30 words a day was the perfect bite-sized goal for me. 100 would have been too much, and I would have been far more likely to procrastinate, and 10 words would have been too easy. But 30 words a day over two years was just enough of a challenge while also being doable for me.

At the end of two years, I had learned 30 words a day which amounted to almost 20,000 words that I had added to my vocabulary.

It’s amazing what you can get done when you break it down into small increments. Incremental momentum towards a long-term vision that’s well-structured and strategized, that’s within your time horizon, increases the probability of reaching your goals.

It’s very powerful once you grasp how little actions make big dreams, and little visions can grow and become huge visions if you just keep doing it.

I remember an exercise I did many years ago where I practiced doing what I said I would do.

So, I took a circle and practiced drawing it until I was satisfied it was the perfect circle. I took a square and practiced until I could draw a perfect square freehand. I did this with many other shapes and kept practicing until it was perfect because that is what I had said I would do. I just kept practicing simple things because every time you do a simple thing and achieve what you set out to do, your brain goes, “I can do what I say.” That’s a great little exercise.

In his best-selling book, “The Time Trap”, Alec MacKenzie showed that people who spend more time planning a goal, seeing it in their mind’s eye, and then structuring, delegating and managing a strategy go way farther in life than those who try to do it all themselves without delegating.

I am certain that it is wise to give yourself permission to surround yourself with people that do extraordinary things in the area of expertise that you may not have. Otherwise, you’ll likely take action steps that are beyond your value system and hesitate on the pursuit.

That’s an important component. If you set a goal and what’s needed to fulfill that goal is outside the skills and primary focus of your own highest values in life, you are wise to put a more congruent and engaged team in there to get it done.

If it’s low on your list of values and something you don’t want to do, if you don’t have somebody to delegate it to, you’ll likely trap yourself

There are some things in business I don’t like doing, so I am careful to delegate it to experts who love to do it and get my goal done.

As Truman says, if you don’t get attached to the goal and think you have to do everything yourself and instead get other people to do their expertise, you can achieve even more.

You can achieve way more in your life if you stick to your core competence, do what is truly inspiring and congruent with your highest values. Set true objectives, strategize and break your goals down into small chunks, hand those delegated steps down to people who love doing the parts that are lower on your values and not inspiring to you. You’ll get way more done in a lot less time when you do this.


Purpose, Mission and Goals


I call my life’s mission statement my “purpose statement” or “statement of purpose”. For me, they are synonymous, and I don’t really differentiate between them.

A mission really means the métier or calling of contribution of an individual through time and space.

You’ll hear people say that it’s their mission to become a teacher or to travel into space, often referring to their life’s work or vocation in life. For me, my mission has always been to travel the world, research, write and teach, which is what I do and what I will likely do until my very last day on earth. It’s a mission through time and space.

Then you have goals in time and space that are made up of intermediate steps that you want to do.

I have a goal to go to every country. I have spoken in 159 countries and presented my signature program, the  Breakthrough Experience, in 69 countries. Those are goals – they are doable, achievable and get done. They’re something you can check off your list or while also adding to them as you go.

You can also have goals that go beyond your life. I have many goals that I envision going beyond my life – I would love the Demartini Method and Breakthrough Experience to continue beyond my life, so they’re both goals that may not necessarily ever be completed and they can go on for generation after generation.

I know of many companies that have been in existence way beyond the life of the founder because the vision was there. So if you have an inspired vision that’s a thousand years in the future and you delegate and put the legal systems and structures in place, you can have goals beyond your lifetime, which then is the fulfillment of your mission.

So, you can have a goal that’s immediate gratifying all the way to an eternal mission that spans your whole life and beyond. Many of them can all be deeply meaningful. However, immediate gratification is less unlikely to empower you or provide you with as deep of meaning.

Money without meaning can lead to debauchery, which is immediate gratification, and money with meaning can lead to philanthropy, which can also become a service that goes beyond life.



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