Goals don’t work. Shocking but true. In fact, according to Scott Adams, author of How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big, “If you study people who succeed, you will find that most of them follow systems, not goals.” The reason why is that setting a single target with specific outcomes creates a pass/fail scenario in which most of your effort is spent in a state of incompletion. In other words, as you work towards one intended result you create a vacuum for achievement by not honoring the effort that’s being made. Then when you reach the actual goal, that single moment can feel fleeting and leave you searching for other forms of fulfillment—which can be demotivating.
Dreams, goals, resolutions, and the like are some of our most celebrated activities this time of year. But so many fall short so quickly because the wrong type of focus is used. When setting a goal, it’s very easy to envision the future state we’re aiming for because endorphins are pumping through our brain over creative possibilities. However, feeling accomplished through acting on goals takes a different kind of focus. One that observes the effort we’re putting in, rather than fixating on what we’re trying to achieve.
For example, if you’re looking to lose weight, make a plan to celebrate eating healthy every day, rather than fixating on a number on the scale. If you’re looking to find financial freedom, invest in a daily habit of managing existing finances, and learning new strategies instead of fixating on the number in your savings account. In turn, these attentive habits create the conditions necessary to make incremental gains and small advancements. This bolsters self-confidence with a further desire to continuously improve. Here are some thoughts on the matter from Adam Alter, author of Irresistible:
This year, rather than plotting an end-point, look to create a new system that aligns with a goal or vision you have. The act of creating a new resolution might feel good at the moment, but celebrating the journey through a positive feedback system is what empowers successful change.
“Its the not the destination, It’s the journey.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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