Guillebeau goals or Babauta habits


Goals and habits. Chris Guillebeau vs Leo Babauta. Not a fight or competition, but a decision of how to live. There’s no scale to measure one being a better fit than the other. There’s no help for the decision other than examining yourself to determine the method that works best for you.

Frustratingly, the answer, as it always seems to be, is probably that “it’s a  mix of the two”. Yay.

Guillebeau says goals. Specific achievements with a due date. Babauta says throw away goals, build habits, consistently repeated behaviors that are designed to improve your life. Both methods are good for your personal development. A prominent difference I found is between the two men.

Guillebeau has no children and I don’t know if he’s married*. Babauta is married with 8 kids. Both men are successful bloggers and book authors. I would wager that the majority of their respective fans match each man’s marital status and fatherhoodom, or lack thereof.

Guillebeau writes about completing a quest for yourself that will transform your life. Before he turned age 35 (the age he chose for the completion of his quest) he visited every country (in the world.) Babauta writes about simplifying your life and finding happiness through your habits. He promotes breathing, meditation, and tons of self reflection to make your life good.

A person doesn’t have to be either-or on this topic of goals and habits. As I said, the solution is probably a mix of the two.

However, I’m dwelling on this topic because I am reading Guillebeau’s book The Happiness of Pursuit, his manual for choosing and accomplishing a life quest. A quest is a massive goal that by it’s very nature would be apparent to everyone you meet. It would consume your actions and conversations because you become it. It requires sacrifice and commitment. Sounds awesome. Sucks, though, because 9 out 10 examples of the questers’ journeys involve traveling to all 50 US states or most of the countries in the world to do their thing of dating, running, walking, or visiting baseball stadiums.

I’m married with three kids and I’m not going to spend half of each year for the next decade or two traveling so I can achieve a quest to transform my life because it would be at the cost of my family’s quality of life. That is if while at home being a family man I find engagement and happiness in my life so as to be a decent role model for my kids and a fulfilling partner to my wife. If I can’t then I might as well pack my bags and walk across the United States as one quester did.

This brings me to Babauta’s philosophy. It’s rooted in Buddhist-like concepts of living which I am biased towards because I’ve been attracted to it since I was a teenager. Babauta has a wildly successful blog called Zen Habits. Wildly successful means over 1 million readers! For the past 8 years he has studied, practiced, and shared in his blog the trials and experiments of sustaining habits that lead to a good life. Like a life quest, this requires sacrifice, but would not be high-risk. I look at this method and see something doable, yet not easy. It’s more attractive to me.

I wonder if it’s just my temperament to choose the lower risk option.

I won’t discount the life quest methodology. I’ll find a way to craft it’s principles into my life, but on a simpler scale. And I’ll have to live with the thought that I’m letting fear rule the decision.

Do you lean more towards habits or goals? And do you have a life quest?

 * Chris did not mention a wife or kids in his book The Happiness of Pursuit.



  1. Like you, I’m a big fan of both and I think you’ve hit on a good point with regard to marital status and children. While I also have no children I do have a relationship and a mortgage because I like a home life but in essence this means I can’t travel about as much as I’d like – then again I didn’t think one could travel like Chris does until I read about it!
    Yes habits are probably the easier of the two risk options but I don’t think it’s any less important in making your life great. You could travel around the world and still not be ‘aware’ or grateful for your life or the people in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin Bradberry

      Intellectually, I wonder if comes down to personality type and risk aversion. Emotionally, I still worry that I’m making excuses so that I can stay in a comfortable zone.


    • You’re absolutely welcome.

      I’m going to tack on here something I chose to leave out of the blog post. It’s another difference between the two authors that’s worth accounting. It’s their websites. While you consider each man’s philosophies and personalities, also consider how their websites are designed.

      That felt too detailed for the blog post, but was something I could not ignore when trying to relate to either man.


  2. Oh also to add, I used to be more goal oriented but now lean towards simply having good habits with no specific goal in mind. The main focus for me on habits instead of goals is to try and enjoy the process in the moment of whatever you are doing rather than the fulfilment of achieving some goal in the future, which – to be deep – is just a figment of our imagination ha.


    • Yes, I agree. In regards to “figment of our imagination”, you’re leaning towards a perspective akin to Babauta’s that I heard Srini Rao touch on. My interpretation of the idea is that we invent our goals while, unfortunately, not having adequate input to know if the goal we have set is truly what we should be doing or what we want to become. Deciding what is a good or bad habit, on the other hand, is more objective. If we stick to our choice of good habits then the direction our lives take will inevitably be good and take us to horizons that we did not know to even consider as possibilities.


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