It is hard to believe that we are already into the second month of the new year. How are you doing with those new year’s resolutions? I know not everyone makes resolutions, but many people like to set goals for themselves to keep on track especially for a new year, month, or week. While goal setting is a common practice, I recently read an article that gave an interesting spin on the topic.
In “Forget Setting Goals. Focus On This Instead,“ James Clear, Writer, Entrepreneur and Behavior Science Expert, talks about focusing on systems instead of goals, which I found interesting. He states that “we should commit to a process, not a goal. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.”¹ For example, let’s say you are interested in losing 20 pounds. If you focus on the goal of losing weight, you can easily get off track and stress yourself out. If you focus instead, on the process of incorporating more healthy food in your diet, such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains each day, it is much less stressful and easier to achieve.
In business, sales people often have a monthly goal to achieve. If they focus on the number, again they may easily stress themselves out. If instead however, they focus on the process of making sales calls and stick to it, they will have taken the rights steps towards achieving making sales and signed agreements will follow.
Although I think it is good to have goals, I do agree that it is better to focus on the process, no matter what that may be. We must all remember the saying, “A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” and make sure we take it.
Following are 3 reasons why we should focus on systems instead of goals from the article:
- Goals reduce your current happiness. When working towards a goal, we often say we are not good enough yet, but will be when we reach the goal. In doing this, we are postponing our happiness. Again—We need to commit to a process, not a goal.
- Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress. (e.g. Someone who is training for a marathon, may be committed for months, but when it is over, often times they stop. This is also true with many fad-diets. While some people may lose some weight while on a diet, when they go off, there is often times a “yo-yo effect,” as people tend to go back to their old way of eating, instead of choosing healthy foods. It is better to eat healthy and not be concerned about immediate results. Results will come with a life-style change of eating.
- Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over. We can’t predict the future, nor is it guaranteed. We often try to plan out where we will be and when we will get there, but have no idea what circumstances will rise in the mean time. It is better to build feedback loops. Feedback loops help build good systems. They allow us to track certain variables that show where we are at a certain points in time. (e.g. Food journals, Website stats, etc.)²
Thanks for reading!