Setting goals is very common practice, yet most people fail to achieve them. Why is that?
Achievements and results take time.
They require positive habits.
They require consistency.
They require effort.
And if you’re a regular reader/viewer of mine you know I’m ALL about goals.
However, there is something far more important: systems.
I was first introduced to this idea in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. However, he first got the idea from Scott Adams book, How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
The problem with goals
There are two main problems with setting goals and only setting goals:
- You focus too much on the result
When all you focus on is the end goal, you will struggle to make it there.
Setting goals and starting is typically how far most people get. Setting goals is exciting and you get super motivated.
You start making changes that align with your goal and keep it up for a week or two.
Yet you quickly get disappointed because you’re not seeing progress and it’s taking too long.
As I said before, goals require habits, consistency, effort, and time. All of which can be difficult and boring.
“Repetition can be boring or tedious – which is why so few people ever master anything.” – Hal Elrod
This is a common mistake that comes along with vision boards and trying to manifest. It’s amazing to set goals and write them down, but you’ve got to realize they require action.
- You have a misconception that you will be happy with that result
We often set goals and think we’ll be happy once we achieve them, but we both know that’s not true.
Think back to a recent goal you achieved. You probably felt super excited and happy after reaching it, but do you still feel that way?
More than likely you’re just striving to reach your next goal and thinking ‘THEN I’ll be happy.’
This loop is never ending for most people. They fail to recognize the beauty of the journey.
You should still set goals
100% you should still set goals. Your goals are important because they give you direction in creating systems.
Briefly, I do believe goals should be:
- True to you – meaning you actually want to achieve them
- Pretty big and intimidating – of course you’ll probably have smaller goals as well
- Exciting – they should spark some giddiness thinking about reaching them
- Measurable and specific – avoid words like “more” or “less”
I also believe it’s important to write your goals down and visit them regularly.
However, once you set those goals you want to focus on your systems.
Let’s say someone didn’t set any goals but started exercising daily, eating healthy, stretching, drinking more water, etc. They would probably still lose weight/get in better shape right?
This is exactly the power of a strong system. No goals are required, they just help.
Think of systems like plans, habits, and action steps. It’s basically “how” you’ll reach your destination.
Once you determine the goal(s) you want to reach, you can start creating systems to support that.
Of course this requires a lot of planning and action, but another important factor needs to be considered first.
You have to forget about the past failures. The important thing is that you’re trying again.
Many people subconsciously make themselves fail because they are thinking about how they weren’t able to achieve a goal in the past.
Self-doubt, impatience, scarcity, and other negative thoughts will hold you back.
Switching to a positive and growth mindset are key to moving forward in life.
RELATED POST: 14 Ways To Develop a Growth Mindset
Work on your mindset every single day.
Believe you can do this. Think about who you want to be in the future and show up as that person.
This will help you to actually follow-through on your systems.
Personally, I’m working on creating a better system when it comes to my online business. I’ve noticed a lack of drive and progress in my work and I wasn’t achieving any of the goals I set.
So the systems I’m putting in place include:
- Batching my content – I planned out all the steps for how I’ll batch my work
- Getting more organized – by scheduling my days with more detail (using Google sheets, Google calendar, and Asana)
- Limiting distractions – by using an app blocker and working in Pomodoros
- Continuing to work on my mindset – to get out of my own damn way with limiting beliefs
- Focusing on the process not the results – by limiting how often I check analytics, revenue, subscribers, etc.
If your goal is to run a 5K, your systems may involve jogging for 30 minutes a day, stretching daily, and drinking 64 oz of water.
If your goal is to learn a language, your system may be 1 hour of practice a day and having a conversation with a native speaker every day.
Identify and commit to any number of tasks that will get you closer to your goal(s).
Your systems will develop into routines and will become self-sustaining. You’ll notice yourself just doing those things because that’s just what you do.
You identify with these new systems.
“The way you know you have a good system is that you come out ahead even when you fail at whatever you’re doing.” – Scott Adams
A little each day
Creating new habits and going after big goals can be difficult.
If it’s something you struggle with, I suggest you start with one small thing that you can commit to each day.
Make it something that you 100% will do. So even if it’s just writing one sentence or walking for 3 minutes you’ll at least create the habit of it.
Then on days where you feel like doing more, you can.
Track your progress and see how that makes you feel.
I discuss this more in my free self-discipline webinar and even have a tracker you can download and print out for your one commitment.
Compound your time
Compounding time allows you to stack habits and produce/do more in less time.
This isn’t multi-tasking. Multi-tasking would be like trying to watch a movie and write a paper. That doesn’t usually end well.
Instead you are creating a system that involves adding one behavior on top of another.
Compounding your time means you listen to an audiobook while driving or walking. Or doing exercises during each commercial break. Or thinking of things you’re grateful for while washing dishes.
This is a great way to implement better habits that will actually stick and help you get closer to reaching your goals.
Be sure to pay attention to your days.
Are your systems working?
Are you building new habits?
Do you still REALLY want to reach that goal?
Re-evaluate yourself and your behaviors every couple of weeks or so to determine your efficiency. You can adjust things as needed.
Enjoy the journey
The best part of striving for a goal is the journey to get there.
You can literally transform your life. You can develop new habits. You can learn new things about yourself.
Even if you don’t achieve your goal by a certain deadline you’ll be able to look back and appreciate how far you have come.
That is the true value of it.
The new systems you have in place will slowly get you where you want to be. Stay consistent, enjoy the process, and adjust if necessary.
Like I said, still set goals. However, your systems will be more satisfying and character building.
You may or may not reach your goals, but just focus on today and what you’re doing now. Make it better.
Great article! Feeling super motivated now to tackle some goals again which I left behind recently because of another baby and little time. I have some good ideas for systems already. Thank you for this 🙂
Love this article! I’m pumped to set some system-based goals and distance myself from the guilt and dread that always happen with my outcome-based goals.
Yes, love that!! I’m doing the same because I’ve gone SO long thinking I was doing things right.
This is eye-opening. Breaking down the process of goal setting into manageable, achievable chunks set us on the path for success. This is an aha moment for me!
Love this, one suggestion, can you make your articles printable?
Thank you so much for this article!!! I love this! What speaks to me the most, “Focusing on the process not the results – by limiting how often I check analytics, revenue, subscribers, etc.” I plan to spend some time today looking at my goals and putting together systems to achieve them.