Goals vs. Systems: How the Latter Can Help You Succeed


Beautiful student woman thinking  in the future2014 has started off with a bang, and if you’re like most people, you have a list of resolutions, or goals, that you’d like to accomplish this year.  That’s a great start!  But you know what will ensure success?  Systems.

In a recent Entrereneur.com article, life coach and writer James Clear proclaims, “Forget Setting Goals.  Focus on This Instead.”  He describes the difference between goals and systems from the perspective of various occupations.  “If you’re a coach,” he says, “your goal is to win a championship.  Your system is what your team does at practice each day.  If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book.  Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.”

He asks readers to consider this: “If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your systems, would you still get results?”  He believes you would.

Clear shares three tips on backing systems rather than goals:

  • Commit to a process, not a goal.  Clear suggests focusing on your practice rather than your performance.  A goal—the performance—can often feel like a heavy burden, a glorious expectation to be realized.  Instead, create a daily process that enables you to perform the work necessary to improve and draw closer to that goal.
  • Release the need for immediate results. If you’re committed to a process, the fact that you don’t achieve a specific expectation immediately should not deter you.  Commitment to a process is commitment to long-term results, and once you recognize that you can release the need for immediate gratification.
  • Build feedback loops. This requires you to evaluate your progress and determine how successful your “practice” is.  Clear explains, “Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.”

When you can establish solid systems that will help you develop both personally and professionally, you can rest assured that you’ll move closer and closer to the success and accomplishment you hope to attain.

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Clear, James.  “Forget Setting Goals.  Focus on This Instead.” 17 December 2013 Entrepreneur.com

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