This is the time of year when almost everyone reviews their dreams and sets goals and targets for the new year, and that is a GOOD thing! Always be clear about where you’re going! Always have a destination, an outcome, a “next step” or target in mind. If you don’t choose your goals, you are doomed to a life without direction or purpose. Always know “what’s next” in life!
At the same time, here’s an interesting question: Would you rather have goals, or systems that automatically take you where you want to go in life?
I think the answer is obvious, but few people seem to really “get it.”
Goals are wonderful. As I just wrote, goals are good! But systems are better.
The problem with goals is that they are always in the future. They are something to be worked on and achieved as soon as possible, but always in the future. Systems support us and enrich our lives immediately, today, right NOW!
Because they are in the future, goals are easier than systems. Goals sound nice, they can be exciting, and there’s a certain safety in knowing that we can have goals “down the road” without having to disrupt our lives today.
New systems, on the other hand, disrupt our lives–sometimes very dramatically–and can upset important people around us. A goal to start a business “soon” or “this year” is very different than coming home late every night. A goal to start “some day” is very different than spending every weekend launching the new project. A goal to be slim, trim and strong “this year” is very different than adding a daily workout to your already hectic schedule.
Systems (or habits) are the golden path to anything we want in life. Once you establish the system or pattern of exercising every day, fitness is no longer a goal. It becomes the automatic, inevitable result of what you “normally” do every single day. Fitness is a “side effect” of your system!
This is true of just about anything you want in life. My bias is that no one should ever set a “goal” to save or invest for the future! What a silly thing to do! Instead, make the decision to start investing immediately, then develop a system to make saving automatic, fool-proof and easy. The “goal” to save will never make you rich, but a system like the payroll savings plan at work just might do the trick.
Similarly, never set a “goal” to improve your marriage! Instead, develop a system that includes some quiet time every single day. Establish a system of weekly dates, daily hugs and lots of laughter. Develop habits (or “systems”) for sharing and intimacy that will predictably lead to the results you prefer.
Systems beat goals every time!
Year after year, I have clients who are eager to set sales “goals,” but few who are prepared to change their daily behaviors and develop systems that will guarantee more sales. Systems make success automatic, but can be uncomfortable, even painful, at first.
In the end, I recommend focusing on systems. Goals excite the imagination and give us a preview of coming attractions, but systems are the golden path to ultimate success. Systems give us control and empower us immediately. Systems will open doors and give you the life you truly want.
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
— Pope John XXIII