Do you have VAPID goals?

I've spoken in the past about my skepticism of "SMART" goals.

But there are worse models for formulating goals. "VAPID" goals are a great example.

I was recently listening to The Art of Manliness' podcast titled "How to be miserable", with Brett McKay interviewing psychologist Dr Randy Paterson. Paterson is the author of several books, including How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Are Already Using.

It's a fascinating conversation. One of the things that Paterson talks about is VAPID goals. He says that "VAPID goals are what we often set if we're not thinking about it". These are the types of goals you don't want to be formulating. 

What is a VAPID goal? It's a goal that is:

  • Vague. The goal is unclear, and the steps you need to take to achieve the goal are unclear.
  • Amorphous. The goal doesn't have a finish line or any sense of achievement.
  • Pie in the sky. It's too ambitious. 
  • Irrelevant. The goal isn't actually linked to what we really value and care about.
  • Delayed. There's no time frame. It can happen any time. 

I like this framework. In fact, instead of formulating goals using the SMART model, it might be more insightful to ask: is there anything about this goal that is VAPID?


When it comes to your personal finances, it can be easy to have VAPID goals. If you want to work with someone to get some clarity about your financial and lifestyle goals, I may be able to help. Check out my financial advice business at

Sonnie Bailey

Sonnie is the founder and principal of Fairhaven Wealth.

Before founding Fairhaven Wealth, Sonnie worked in the legal and financial services industries for over a decade.

Sonnie first became involved with financial advice as a specialist financial services lawyer. For many years, he was an “adviser of advisers”, reviewing thousands of advice files prepared by hundreds of financial advisers, and providing feedback in relation to the quality and appropriateness of advice; industry best practice; risk management; and regulatory compliance. He has published work in industry publications and spoken at various financial advice conferences.

Sonnie has also worked with banks, investment management firms, insurers, and derivatives providers.

Sonnie has worked as a private client lawyer, focusing on succession, estate planning and trusts. He ran his own legal firm in Australia before relocating to New Zealand. He has also acted in independent trustee and company director positions.

Sonnie is passionate about helping people achieve their goals and manage the risks to which they are exposed.

He has written extensively on his blog, New Zealand Wealth and Risk, which can be found at

Sonnie is married to his wonderful wife Chrissy, and has two young children, Ben and Anna.