Do you have VAPID goals?

13 August 2016

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 www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz



About the author 

Sonnie Bailey

In his spare time, Sonnie likes telling people that he’s a former Olympic power walker, a lion tamer, or that he is an orthodontist. He is none of those things. In reality, Sonnie is a financial planner based in Christchurch. Through his business, Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz), he provides independent, advice-only, fixed-fee financial planning services. Sonnie is a “recovering lawyer”: he has specialised in trusts and personal client work. He has also worked as a financial services lawyer for many years.

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