In chapter 4 of Grit, Angela Duckworth introduces the idea of a hierarchy of goals.
She describes three levels of goals.
Imagine a pyramid with one goal at the top, three mid-level goals, and seven low-level goals.
The low-level goals “exist merely as a means to ends.”
“The higher the goal, the more it’s an end in itself, and the less it’s merely a means to an end.”
Here is the example she uses:
- Low-level goal: Getting out the door by 8:00 a.m.
- Mid-level goal: Arrive to work on time.
- High-level goal: You strive to be a good leader.
You can get to that last, higher-level goal by asking yourself why each goal is important until your answer is simply “Just because!”
“The top-level goal is not a means to any other end. It is, instead, an end in itself.”
A lot of people might describe these top-level goals as visions or missions rather than goals. I like the idea of thinking of this goal level as something we strive for “just because.”
So often artists are asked why they create or leaders are asked why they strive for such a higher mission and they are unable to articulate a good reason.
Often the answer is simply, “Because I have to.”
Any other answer isn’t as inspirational.
This hierarchy of goals explains this difficulty in articulating that deeper level of motivation.
You might even call it a “calling.”