The Curiosity Chronicle | The Power of Anti-Goals - Deepstash
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  • Anti-goals are the things we DON'T want to happen—either as final outcomes or along the way. Establishing them allows you to win the battle AND the war.
  • If traditional goals are the rudders that set your direction, think of anti-goals as the map that tells you where the rapids are. Awareness is key here.
  • The generalized process involves four steps: (1) Choose Your Arena, (2) Establish Traditional Goals, (3) Invert the Problem, and (4) Establish Anti-Goals.
  • Test it out by establishing anti-goals when planning for new projects, designing your life, or creating self-improvement plans.


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The Inversion Mental Model

The Inversion Mental Model

The concept of anti-goals is grounded in inversion—a foundational mental model that says that complex problems are often easier solved backwards vs. forwards.

With traditional goals, we envision the optimal outcome. We then build systems that will—hopefully—lead to that outcome.

This is important and necessary—but it’s incomplete. Anti-goals leverage inversion to complete the picture.

Anti-goals are the things we DON'T want to happen—either as final outcomes or along the way.


108 reads


What if your dream was to be a musician. And guess what - you did it!

But while you’re touring the world, you gain weight, get addicted to drugs, your marriage is in shambles, and your kids don’t recognize won the battle but lost the war.

Anti-goals allow you to win the battle AND the war!



108 reads

Choose Your Arena

Choose Your Arena

The arena is the "project" you’re going to be working on.

A few broad categories to consider:

  • Personal
  • Work
  • Health

Your arena should be a specific project under a larger category. It’s the place where you’re looking for achievement, progress, or growth.


90 reads

Establish Traditional Goals

Establish Traditional Goals

These are your standard goals—the desired outcomes from the chosen arena. This should be easy, as it’s familiar.

A few examples of traditional goals:

  • Run a 6-min mile
  • Build a 100,000 sub newsletter
  • Promotion to VP
  • Create a top-25 podcast

Clear, big picture traditional goals are important.


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Outcomes, Systems, Actions

Outcomes, Systems, Actions

To invert, ask and answer a few questions.

In the pursuit of these traditional goals:

What is the worst possible outcome?

What systems would lead to that?

What daily actions would I regret?

In short, ask yourself what you would view as winning the battle but losing the war.


84 reads

Establish Anti-Goals

Establish Anti-Goals

Now work backwards to establish your anti-goals—the outcomes you DON’T want.

If traditional goals are the rudders that set your direction, think of anti-goals as the map that tells you where the rapids are.

A thoughtful, clear map keeps you on smooth waters.


71 reads

An Anti-Goal Example: Physical Fitness

An Anti-Goal Example: Physical Fitness

Establish Traditional Goals:

  • Run a 6-minute mile
  • Under 8% bodyfat
  • Deadlift 500 pounds

Establish Anti-Goals:

  • Never think about workouts. Hire a trainer to write workout programs.
  • Never think about diet. Buy pre-prepared healthy meals.
  • Never let workouts consume my life. Schedule 90-minute blocks at the same time every AM as my workout window.


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The Anti-Goal Framework

The Anti-Goal Framework

  • Choose Your Arena: Select the project you are going to be working on.
  • Establish Traditional Goals: Set the specific desired outcomes.
  • Invert the Problem: What would it look like to win the battle but lose the war?
  • Establish Anti-Goals: Set the specific outcomes you DON’T want.

So as you take on your next project, give this framework a shot. Establish anti-goals to sit alongside your traditional goals.

Win the battle AND the war!


71 reads



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