Ep. 303: The Problem with Grand Goals

The desire to cultivate a more intentional and remarkable existence – what we call “the deep life” – is universal. In today’s episode, Cal talks about one of the most common traps in this pursuit: hoping that the achievement of a singular grand goal will make all parts of your life better. Cal discusses the problems with the grand goal approach and argues why the more systematic lifestyle-centric mindset will not only produce better results, but end up leading to remarkable opportunities anyway. He then takes questions and calls from readers and reviews the five books he read in May.

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– How to create a deep life [9:55]


– Is it too late to start living deep at the age of 27? [31:29]
– Is it possible to cultivate a deep life at a job that requires full attention? [36:05]
– How come there are different Deep Life Stacks? [38:57]
– How to cultivate a deep life with small children? [46:40]
– Do I need to “limit my missions” if I have a standard day job? [54:40]
– CALL: Keeping focus after having children [58:28]


– Finding books to help cultivate a deep life [1:12:28]


– The 5 Books Cal Read in May 2024 [1:22:53]

Science and Human Values (j. Bronowski)
The Hot Zone (Richard Preston)
Extinction (Douglas Preston)
When the Shooting Stops…the Cutting Begins (Ralph Rosenbaum and Robert Karen)
The Great Partnership (Jonathan Sacks)


– Don’t Set Big Goals: The Common Trap Keeping You From A Life Of Purpose & Meaning | Cal Newport


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Thanks to Jesse Miller for production, Jay Kerstens for the intro music, and Mark Miles for mastering.