Hustler’s Mantra: Focus on Your Systems Instead Of Goals
What a mistake - the whole idea around New Year's resolutions. People aren't picking specific behaviors; they're picking abstractions – BJ Fogg from Stanford University
Beginning a new year gives us a lot of hope. It also gives us this brand new – writing on a clean slate – starting afresh feels – especially after the year like the one that we have had. With that comes letting go of the bygones and making new year's resolutions / goals that we are determined to accomplish in the year 2021. This is because we have been taught all our life that the best way to achieve what we want in life is by setting specific and actionable goals.
So, for many years we have been setting goals like "This year I'm gonna lose certain amount of weight" or "This year I'm gonna read 50 books" or "This year I'm going to make 20% more money than the last year" etc. But you know what? This system is entirely flawed. We have to come to realization that the results have very little to do with the goals we had set and almost everything to do with the systems that we follow.
Scott Adam, in his book "How to fail at almost everything and still win big "has impressively defined goals and systems. He says "A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it's a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal". So basically goals are the results that you want to achieve and systems are the processes that lead you to those results.
For example, if you are an employee then your goal might be getting promoted but your system is how often you take up challenging tasks and perform excellently. And, if you are an entrepreneur, your goal might be setting up a successful business but your system is how you test and implement new ideas, plan strategies and hire talents. The interesting fact is that even if you completely ignore your goal and focus only on your system, you would still succeed in achieving your goal.
James Clear, in his book "Atomic Habits" says that "The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard. The only way to actually win is to get better each day. In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, "The score takes care of itself." The same is true for other areas of life. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead." When you do the right things, the rest will fall into places by itself.
A goal oriented mindset will not get you motivated in the long term. For example, if your goal is to read 50 books in a year, until you complete reading the 50 books you would stay motivated but what happens when you complete the 50th book? You wouldn't touch another book after that because you have accomplished your goal and reading a book after that doesn't matter. But when you build systems and develop the habit of reading everyday you would eventually become a reader and that would help you all your life.
Well, I'm not saying goals are entirely useless. Goals give us direction but systems help us make actual progress. So, focus on your systems and processes. This will help us grow every day and become the better version of ourselves. When we do this we might get opportunities that would lead us to achieve things that might be greater than our original goals.