Most of the wise people say that in order to achieve what you want, be it financial success, mental stability, or proficiency at something, you have to set goals that are specific and realistic. It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Simple things are often hard to do. However, setting goals and planning is only the first step in making dreams come true. It’s necessary but insufficient.
It’s no wonder that many people tell you about their dreams and they never seem to have achieved them. Perhaps, you had set goals and they were specific and realistic, but you failed at reaching what you want.
The solution is to have a system to follow. Following a system and systematically approaching the actions required to achieve the goal is necessary. They are even more important in the process than merely setting goals.
Examples of how you can systematically achieve what you want
The first example is about a musician who wants to learn a difficult composition. This musician has a specific goal and it’s realistic (because every composition is essentially playable no matter how hard it is). What he should do next is have a system that includes how many hours of practice are needed, how the music piece can be broken down and tackled, and how the difficult parts can be managed, etc.
Another example is an entrepreneur who wants to build a million-dollar company. The entrepreneur has to have a system that focuses on testing the products, hiring competent people, and running successful campaigns.
What if you only focused on the system instead of setting goals?
Let’s say, the musician didn’t set a goal and just followed the system and practiced the song. Would that be enough to master it?
Actually yes! The ultimate goal is to know how to perform the composition. Thinking about the goal of mastering the composition all the time would not make the musician learn it. But, when he follows the system of practice, the musician’s goal will automatically take care of itself.
Are goals unnecessary?
Goals are necessary, but they are not as important as trying to actually achieve them using a system. The goal gives you the direction and the system helps you progress towards reaching it. Problems arise when you just spend your time thinking about the goals, without being active about it.
Facts about goals
Losers, just like winners, have the same goals
You have to understand that winners and losers share the same goals. Having ambitious goals is not necessarily a guarantee that you’ll achieve them. Millions of people have ambitious goals, but only a few of them achieve what they want.
Achieving goals is only a momentary change.
Let’s assume you have a messy room and you finally invoked the necessary energy to organize it. After you’ve done that you achieved your goal. But, the problem is it’s only momentary. If you keep the same attitude and behavior the room will be messy very soon.
When you follow a system, which corrects those clumsy behaviors, you will have fixed the problem of having a messy room at the deep level, which means you can achieve the goal as a consequence of following a system that eradicates clumsy behavior.
Goals restrict you
Goals put you in a restricted mindset where you expect to be happy in the future once you achieve them. But, usually, that doesn’t happen. This restrictive mindset where the product of the goal is what brings happiness is not good for the long run because we humans will never be satisfied with anything. We always want more and this makes us feel hollow.
Contrary to that, when you feel happy about following the steps of the system and the actions themselves that bring the goal, you will always feel motivated and energetic.
Goals hinder long-term progress.
The mindset that only thinks about the goals can backlash when you achieve the goal. In other words, when you reach the goal, you no longer feel motivated to continue further. For example, many people set losing a certain amount of weight as a goal and they actually achieve that. However, most of them let the guard of once they do and they eat a lot of calories after that. Some people stop training once they achieve a certain goal.
Systems on the other hand give goals a backseat. When you follow the system the goals don’t matter because you can always exceed what you’ve done and reach higher goals without even thinking about them.
In conclusion, goals are not completely useless, but they alone are not enough for progress. You can plan your goals, but you also have to have a system that monitors progress.
Goals provide the form and systems are the force that drives us to achieve that form.