Goals are overrated. They are promoted by people who, instead, often focus on systems to get what they want.
So what’s the difference?
Goals are more like a fixed target, a specific outcome we shoot for.
The most common suggestions are to keep your goals stated in the present tense.
For example, “I make $10,000 per month from my wine business.”
Add to that, the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to describe any worthwhile goal:
S – it should be something Specific
M – it should be Measurable
A – it should be Achievable/Attainable
R – it should be Realistic/Relevant
T – it should be Timely/time-sensitive
(ie. putting a date on when you will achieve it by)
Systems are fluid & flexible actions we take on a regular basis.
In this way, there is a general expectation of refining skills via curiosity to, hopefully, improve our chance of making the most of opportunities.
Goal — “I want to lose 20 pounds by June 6th, 2019.”
System — “I eat healthily and move my body every day.”
Goal — “I want to make a million dollars by the end of 2020.”
System — “I am mindful of my spending habits and I’m eager to try new things that take me out of my comfort-zone.”
Goal — “I want to write and publish a book by June 6th, 2019.”
System — “I spend 30 minutes writing every day, with no distractions.”
We could go around in circles debating the interplay between these two approaches.
Don’t you have to set a goal to execute any particular system?
And isn’t setting a goal a system in itself?
Aside from that, if you don’t quite reach the target, you still would have made some progress, more than most who never started, right?
Tim Ferriss and Leo Babauta had a concise little discussion/disagreement about the value of goals here.
With the New Year upon us, I am erring toward focusing on systems to achieve what I want for 2019. Whether this is actually a goal or not, I’m not sure.
It will be ironed out in practice.
I’m choosing to frame it as systems, and not goals, for two reasons:
- Setting a goal has too often just freaked me out, thereby actually having the opposite of the desired result.
Goals should be there to serve us, not the other way around.
- Setting a deadline for a goal has too often encouraged procrastination, as I wait until the last minute to tackle a task.
Besides all that, ever since I was little, hands-on experience (with little to no preambles) has been the best & most effective way I learn and develop.
I will report back. I might end up hedging my bets.
Maybe you would prefer to research the goals versus systems debate a little more.
If you do, please email me and let me know what you find out.