Create Systems Instead of Goals

  • Share This:

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

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

Related Content

post thumbnail
In the Flow of Work
Aspirations vs. Expectations

When we’re left feeling like our world is unresolved, the effects on our emotional psyche can be destabilizing. Anxiety, stress, and despondency can quickly become all-consuming when we no longer see the outcomes that...

post thumbnail
In the Flow of Work
Expectations Shape Actions

Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to change an opinion of yourself or others? As part of our mental process, our brains use a shortcut called Confirmation Bias to fast track...

post thumbnail
In the Flow of Work
The Fear of Missing Out

You might be surprised to learn that we’re twice as motivated by the feelings of loss than we are by the potential of gains. This means that we’re much more likely to react and...

Man with beard resting head on hand, and a woman in the foreground, both looking up at a presentation.

Insights on People Analytics, Self-Mastery, High-Performance Teams and the Future of Work

Get insights delivered to your inbox.