I just read an article on goal setting by James Clear. He argues that we should not focus on goals but should focus on systems instead. He believes that by focusing on our goals we are constantly disappointed. However, if we focus on the system we are constantly rewarded with positive feedback because we are following the system.
He gives an example of writing a book. If the goal is to write a book of a certain length, you may be disappointed. If your system is to sit and write for an hour every day, you are successful every day that you sit and write for an hour.
Clear also states that achievement of the goal is often anticlimactic. That tells us that the goal is not as important as we think. Or, that what we thought would be the result of accomplishing the goal was not reality.
I have certainly achieved goals that resulted in something different than what I anticipated. Most involved some “thing” that did not live up to my expectation.
Graduation ceremonies were anticlimactic. In fact, I have three degrees and I only attended one graduation ceremony. I would not have attended that one if attendance was not mandatory. However, I never saw the degree as a goal but more of a step toward a goal.
That brings us to planning the steps to accomplishing the goal. Accomplishing goals is part of the Ascendancy course. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, stated that he never failed to accomplish a goal unless he wavered in his desire to attain the goal. Which brings us to WHY.
What is the why behind achieving your goal? Until you are clear on the why, you are unlikely to achieve your goal and if you do achieve it, you are likely to be disappointed.
That is why it is so important to understand yourself before getting into goal setting. What motivates you? What is your personal Why?
There is certainly something to be said for the systems approach. I have been considering something similar. I am one who does better when under the gun of a deadline. I wrote articles for a monthly paper and found that the monthly deadline forced a system to my writing that would not have happened otherwise.
On the other hand, I wrote From Paint Rags to Riches because I felt inspired. I had just completed a course to become a real estate agent and was amazed at what I did not know. I was inspired to teach others what I had learned.
I was also inspired to write Dupe ’em and Dope ’em. Having been involved in healthcare for over a quarter century, I wanted to expose how politics had increased the cost and why the science of medicine was not nearly as good as what we are lead to believe.
Neither of those books was actually a goal. I did not have a plan. I just sat down and started writing and the words flowed. I had already created a publishing company and knew how to get the books to market. It was interesting that I did not have a financial goal or a goal to change anybody’s thinking. I would say the process was more of a passion. I was determined to create the books regardless of the outcome. Once completed, it was not anticlimactic. It was satisfying. I said my piece.
Clear states that he did not have a goal to write a book. He had a system to create a blog post twice per week and in that process has written more than enough words for two books in the last year. He makes the case for focusing on the system rather than the goal. He believes that a basketball coach could focus on the fundamentals during practice and the team would do as well as if the goal was to win a championship.
That might be true for basketball. It might be true for anything where the steps to victory are well-known. However, life continues to evolve and change.
Consider the 2016 presidential election. Trump had a vision for America and a goal of becoming president. He did not know about politics and seems to have had no system. Clinton’s vision seemed less clear. She had the same goal and knew politics from her decades of involvement. Clinton focused on her system. She had hundreds of staff. She never changed her leadership. Trump had a staff of less than a hundred. He focused on the goal and fired two campaign managers before finding the winning combination.
I use that as an example in the course. If you want to accomplish a goal, you must break it down to steps and develop a plan. Performing the steps takes the goal from a vision to reality. You must use your intention to create anything. While performing the steps, you also must watch your mind for any indication that you really are not committed to your goal. You also must watch for evidence that you should change your plan. That is a problem with focusing on the system. You do not realize when you are off target.
In Psycho-cybernetics, Dr. Maltz talks about the mechanism in a torpedo that guides it toward a goal. The torpedo has sensors that tell it the position of the target. When the torpedo gets off track, the mechanism guides it back on course. The actual course of the torpedo would be zig-zag with constant corrections. The better the mechanism the more the zig-zag looks like a straight line.
Now imagine a torpedo without a goal. What if it went straight up? It would come straight down and blow up the launch pad.
Goals are important. The steps to accomplishing the goals are important. The WHY is the most important. If your WHY is congruent with who you are and what makes you happy, then the steps toward your goal bring you pleasure and contentment. You enjoy the journey.
That is a successful life.