James Clear is an accomplished author and successful blogger who has changed the way people have
viewed habits. His current book Atomic Habits is a New York Times bestseller. One of the concepts James talks about in his book Atomic Habits is the idea of “Winners and losers have the same goals”. I can agree goals are a short-lived fantasy we have that motivates us to do something, hopefully, the right thing, and take action. 

While on Jame’s blog, JamesClear.com, he wrote about the topic of goals, and he mentioned a few insights I found valuable to share. He brings up a psychology concept referring to “goal competition.” In the book Handbook of Consumer Psychology by Haugtvedt, Herr, and Kardes, they wrote: “according to the principle of goal competition, simultaneously activated goals compete for limited motivational resources” (p. 615). If you are looking towards the new year, and you are making a list of health and wellness goals, you would do well to compare them against each other to see if they are going to be competing for the same resources. 

I worked with a client who wanted to build muscle and lose fat. I said, “we can work on exercising so you can develop strength and muscle. While you cannot replace fat with muscle, if you exercise and feed your body well, then there will be no place for your body to be or feel flabby. But, if you are second-guessing each decision and making choices during those moments that might damage your long term progress, you are going to sabotage yourself and not take an inch forward in any direction. 

James Clear simplifies this concept as he positions that goal setting is more about goal selection. He says, “what we really need is not better goals, but better focus” in his post about Goal Setting. 


Haugtvedt, C. P., Herr, P. M., & Kardes, F. R. (2008). Handbook of consumer psychology. New York: Psychology Press.

James Clear. (n.d.). Goal Setting: A Scientific Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals. Retrieved from http://www.jamesclear.com/goal-setting.

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