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Have you ever set a goal for yourself, achieved it and end up right where you started? Then you feel disappointed in yourself and start thinking that you’re a failure with no willpower.
If this is you, then good news, the problem isn’t you, necessarily. The main issue is that you are focusing on the wrong thing. It’s great to have a goal but setting a goal in itself is not the key to success. Without first changing the systems that create your reality then goal setting can be counterproductive. In order to achieve anything you first need to change the environment or systems, you use to achieve your goals.
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, “your results have very little to do with the goals you set and more to do with the systems you follow.” https://jamesclear.com/goals-systems
Your systems are what you do daily. It is the practices you implement in your daily life that determine the results you obtain. On another note, Mr Clear also states, that when trying to start a habit you need to set identity-based habits and not outcome-based habits. I mention this to provide content for the following example.
My goal is to read 1 book a week.
This is an outcome-based goal.
My goal is to become a reader.
This is an identity-based goal. When you link your goal to the type of person you want to become, you are more invested in it and likely to adopt the practices of a reader.
To become a reader:
- You may start by asking yourself what would a reader do?
- Leave a book on my nightstand every night.
- Have a book in my bag to read in gap periods when waiting or commuting.
- Create a reading list
- Have an e-book or audiobook to read on the go.
- Read 15 minutes after waking and before bed.
By implementing these systems you set up your environment to reduce the friction between you and reading. Ultimately in following these systems you can achieve the goal of reading 1 book a week.
The good thing is because you see yourself as a reader, you are more likely to make this a part of your lifestyle. However, in the outcome-based option, after you read 1 book a week, once, you are more likely to slack off. You have accomplished the goal of reading 1 book a week so now all that motivation and desire fizzles away.
In a nutshell, instead of focusing on the goal, the outcome that you want to achieve, focus on the systems that will help you become the type of person who does those things. The best part is that you can apply this to any area of your life.
I truly recommend you read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits to understand how to shape and break habits and consider signing up for his 30-day challenge.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” James Clear, Atomic Habits
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Thank you for reading.
What do you think about this concept? Is it the systems or goals that create the result?
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