Goal-Setting, Systems of Desire, and the Importance of Tacit Knowledge


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 31, 2023

3 min read


Goal-Setting, Systems of Desire, and the Importance of Tacit Knowledge


In our quest for success and personal growth, we often turn to goal-setting as a means to achieve our desired outcomes. However, this article argues that focusing solely on setting goals can be counterproductive and that understanding the systems of desire that shape our goals is crucial. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of tacit knowledge in skill acquisition and suggests that we shift our attention from deliberate practice to gaining tacit knowledge directly.

Unveiling Systems of Desire:

When we set goals, we are often influenced by the desires of others and the systems of desire that surround us. Mimetic desire, the phenomenon of wanting what others want because they want it, plays a significant role in shaping our goals. We imitate the desires of those around us or those who came before us, unconsciously aligning our aspirations with theirs. Recognizing these mimetic systems of desire is the first step towards understanding our own goals and making conscious choices.

The Illusion of Progress:

While setting goals may seem like a step towards progress, it is essential to question the origin and purpose of these goals. Are they truly aligned with our own desires, or are they merely a result of societal expectations? The education system, for example, often fails to provide a clear teleology or final purpose, leaving students uncertain about their goals. Similarly, the demand for quick success in the tech industry reinforces the desire to pursue start-ups. By examining the systems of desire that influence our goals, we can break free from conformity and pursue a better version of our future.

The Power of Tacit Knowledge:

Tacit knowledge, the knowledge that is difficult to articulate but crucial for expertise, plays a vital role in skill acquisition. While deliberate practice focuses on explicit knowledge and procedures, tacit knowledge is acquired through emulation, imitation, and apprenticeship. By observing and internalizing the principles behind expert actions, we can develop a deeper understanding and mastery of a skill. Emphasizing the importance of tacit knowledge over explicit knowledge can lead to more creative problem-solving and expertise in various fields.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Reflect on your goals: Take the time to understand the systems of desire that influence your goals. Are they driven by your own desires or societal pressures? By gaining awareness, you can make more conscious choices and pursue goals that truly align with your aspirations.
  • 2. Seek tacit knowledge: Instead of solely focusing on deliberate practice, explore ways to gain tacit knowledge directly. Find mentors or experts in your field and learn through emulation, feedback, and osmosis. Embrace the embodied feelings necessary for success in your chosen skill.
  • 3. Prioritize radical honesty: Be honest with yourself about the systems of desire that shape your goals. Challenge conventional wisdom and dare to explore different directions. By breaking free from conformity, you open yourself up to emergent possibilities and a better future.


Goal-setting alone is not enough to achieve true progress and personal growth. Understanding the systems of desire that influence our goals and pursuing tacit knowledge can lead to more meaningful success. By reflecting on our desires, seeking mentorship, and embracing radical honesty, we can navigate the complex landscape of goal-setting and skill acquisition with a clearer vision and a greater chance for fulfillment.

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