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The power of Anti-Goals

· Social Impact Invest

A few months ago I read a tweet by one of my favorite writers, David Perell. He was inspired by investor Andrew Wilkinson who posted about 'anti-goals'. It made me write this story, about how I finally made the decision to leave my office job in Rotterdam, and go to Cape Verde.

"Knowing what you don't want is all you need to start the adventure of a lifetime". - Unknown

In 2013, when I decided it was time to leave my office job and go on an adventure, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't know how things would work out for me. What I did know was that I was ready, and that I had two destinations: Brazil first, and later Cape Verde.

At the office, the fact that I knew so little about my new life would cause akward conversations with colleges who could not understand it. How could I leave such a comfortable life for one that was full of uncertainties?

At that time, for me, it felt good not knowing the answers to the questions people would ask me. I didn't even know how I was going to make a living. Not knowing so many things meant that anything was possible. In my new life I could become who ever I wanted.

The most important thing to me then, was that I knew what I didn't want. And looking back, just that little piece of information has allowed me to continue on this adventure. It was not so much what I wanted that made me quit my job and leave, because I didn't really know what I wanted.

What I didn't want was to spend my life at an office all day long. An office that had been very good to me for so many years. But also a place that had me feeling way too comfortable, and not growing enough. What I didn't want was to bring people their mail all day for the rest of my life.

The funny thing is that in the years prior to making my decision, I had convinced myself of the fact that I could do that work forever and be happy with it. I had also convinced myself that I needed to forget about a life somewhere else, because it just was not going to happen for me.

Being comfortable made me believe in something that was not real. It stopped me from questioning what I was doing because things were good.

What I didn't want was to one day look back at my life and regret all the things that I could've done, but lacked the courage to try. I could spent another few years dreaming about another life, or start living the life that I was dreaming of.

Back then being comfortable also made me forget about reading. So I didn't know Charlie Munger. Maybe if I did, I would've discovered one of my most important 'anti-goals' earlier. At least, now I know, and I will use them the rest of my life. As Charlie would say: “Invert. Always invert.”

In my work for Sonvela I can use the anti-goals and invert philosophy to decide what to work on by asking the question: “What do I don't want for Cape Verde?”

My current anti-goals list for our country:

  • Large groups of people living in poverty

  • A underdeveloped health care system

  • High numbers of unemployment

  • Unsafe environments for woman and children

  • Too much government power and reliability

  • A single (and exclusive) education system

I'll be working on a long-term plan (20-years) to help build a better future for Cape Verde.

Read more about it here:

Sonvela Social Impact Investing