If you come from a relatively privileged background then you probably had something of a roadmap to follow early on. Do well in high school. Get into college. Do some internships. Graduate college. Apply for jobs.

The phrase "climbing the ladder" comes to mind when I write this. This roadmap is very structured and encourages you to follow the status quo for predictable outcomes. There's nothing wrong with that — A lot of the outcomes are good ones! You know the ladder is there, and you know where it's going. There isn't a ton of ambiguity.

On the other hand, when you step foot in the real world, there is ambiguity everywhere. Sure, you can focus on your job and extend the "roadmap" to promotions and career growth. But for most of us, that will only fulfill you for so long. When you reach a certain point, you take a step back from the path you're on, remove your blinders, and see all the ambiguity out there.

It's a tough pill to swallow at first. At least it was for me. Eventually, I came up with a short framework for unpacking some of this ambiguity. The following questions, which I refer to as "personal metrics," are intended for you to assess yourself against and ensure alignment between what you do and what brings you fulfillment:

  • Values: What criteria do I value most for my fulfillment?
  • Goals: What do I want to achieve? ← Aligns with Values
  • Tactics: How can I get to that point? ← Aligns with Goals


It all starts with defining your values. What comes to mind initially when you ask yourself, "What's most important to me?" Another way to unpack your values is to start with the things you enjoy doing most. Then ask yourself why you enjoy these things. Chances are that the reasons you enjoy certain activities align with the things you value most.

Brainstorm until you have a short list and then circle those that are most important to you. I also like expanding on each with some questions to assess myself against. Some of my big ones look like this:

  • Growth: Am I growing and learning new things at a rapid pace? Am I uncomfortable?
  • Excitement: Does what I'm doing excite me? Am I eager to get up in the mornings?
  • Relationships: Are the things I'm doing making the people I care about happier?


Now we have some values to lean on. Let's talk goals. This is where most people go wrong. They are so used to following the status quo in their upbringing, so they just keep ahead on their current track and never question the underlying assumptions. Let's look at some of my goals and ensure there's alignment with my values:

  • Level up as a growth operator and product leader: Growth + Excitement
  • Write and distribute my ideas to more people: Growth + Excitement
  • Learn more about myself and what I want in life: Growth
  • Connect with others and be more vulnerable: Relationships

You can take each one of these goals and tie them back to one of the previous values. An example of a goal that might not align as closely with my values would be buying a house. Travel is important to me for personal growth, excitement, and maintaining relationships. If I blindly accepted the status quo and set a goal to purchase property in a few years, then I wouldn't be super happy due to the misalignment.


This is the part where a lot of people already do a solid job. It's a common career question: "Where do you see yourself in five years? How will you get there?" Tactics represent how you plan to move through life and accomplish your goals. Some examples of tactics:

  • Work for a startup: Level up as a growth operator and product leader
  • Publish weekly blog posts: Write and distribute my ideas to more people
  • Meditation and travel: Learn more about myself and what I want in life
  • Therapy and deliberate practice: Connect with others and be more vulnerable

These don't have to be definitive by any means and probably shouldn't be. The idea here is that we all have these aspirations or visions of how we want our lives to go over the next few years. This is more of an exercise in articulating those aspirations and making sure they align with both our values and goals upstream.

Wrapping up

I hope you found something helpful here. I realize this may have come off as very structured and goal-oriented. There is an argument to be made against goals, however I think there's a healthy way to talk about directional goals. Before we go, here's a quick summary to remember:

  • Values: What criteria do I value most for my fulfillment?
  • Goals: What do I want to achieve? ← Aligns with Values
  • Tactics: How can I get to that point? ← Aligns with Goals

Be mindful of the alignment between what you value, what you are trying to achieve, and the things you do to get there. No need to over-optimize within these points. Be mindful and let the rest take care of itself.

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