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Matt Damon's Oscar
And the danger of reaching your goal
‘Growth without goals’ is a concept that continues to resonate with me. It’s like learning a new word and then suddenly seeing it all the time.
With that, here’s a vivid example of how goals can lead us astray, according to Matt Damon.
Matt Damon won the Oscar for Best Screenplay at just 27 years old. The highest honor for an actor, before he even turned 30!
But after winning, he went home and had a realization…
“I remember very clearly looking at that award and thinking,
‘Imagine chasing that, not getting it, and then getting it finally in your 80s or your 90s with all of life behind you and realizing what an unbelievable waste of your life.’
It can't fill you up. If that's a hole that you have, that won't fill it.
My heart broke. I imagined another one of me [not getting that award until I was] an old man, and going like, ‘oh my god, Where did my life go? What have I done?’ And then it's over.”
Every profession has a similar pinnacle of achievement - reaching the C-Suite, winning MVP - it’s easy to adopt these as our own goals by default. Or perhaps it’s a financial net worth target - I’m a big fan of some FIRE (financial independence, retire early) practices, but you don’t have to look hard to find people sharing the utter disappointment and emptiness they feel after finally reaching their FIRE target. Everything was centered on achieving that outcome, but just as with Matt Damon, the eventual realization was the misplaced goal all along.
None of these goals are inherently bad - it’s how we use them. The expectations we place on them.
A disciplined approach to following our principles in the day-to-day might just be the answer. That executive role, ideal weight, or financial situation might be a wonderful byproduct of a values-based ‘growth without goals’ philosophy.
Thanks to Billy Oppenheimer for sharing the video.