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Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Goals vs. systems

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement: We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. 

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Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

https://jamesclear.com/goals-systems

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Key Ideas

Goals vs. systems

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement: We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. 

Goal setting and survivorship bias

We concentrate on the people who end up winning 🥇 —the survivors—and mistakenly assume that ambitious goals led to their success while overlooking all of the people who had the same objective but didn’t succeed.

Goals restrict your happiness

The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.” The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone.

True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. It’s not about any single accomplishment, but  about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

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Goal setting
Goal setting

Is the act of selecting a target or objective you wish to achieve.

Goal setting is not only about choosing the rewards you want to enjoy, but also the costs you are willing to pay t...

The Rudders and Oars Metaphor
It helps clarify the difference between SYSTEMS and GOALS:
  • Your goals are like the rudder on a small rowboat. They set the direction and determine where you go. 
  • If you commit to one goal, then the rudder stays put and you continue moving forward. 
  • If you flip-flop between goals, then the rudder moves all around and it is easy to find yourself rowing in circles.
  • If the rudder is your goal, then the oars are your process for achieving it. While the rudder determines your direction, it is the oars that determine your progress.

Example: If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.

How to Set Goals You'll Actually Follow
  1. Ruthlessly Eliminate Your Goals. Consistently prune and trim down your goals. If you can muster the courage to prune away a few of your goals, then you create the space you need for the remaining goals to fully blossom.
  2. Stack Your Goals. Make a specific plan for when, where and how you will perform this."Networking: After I return from my lunch break, I will send one email to someone I want to meet."
  3. Set an Upper Bound. Don't focus on the minimum threshold. Instead of saying,  “I want to make at least 10 sales calls today.” rather say, “I want to make at least 10 sales calls today, but not more than 20.”

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Personal Objective Key Results - OKR
Personal Objective Key Results - OKR

OKRs take big lofty goals, segment them into objectives, and then tie each of those objectives to actionable Key Results.

The Objective is the point on the...

Setting your personal OKR
  • Decide on your mission for your quarter.
  • Break mission down into objectives. 
  • Draft your Key Results. Key Results are specific, timely and measurable indicators of your progress.
  • Consider the purpose of each KR.
  • Find an accountability partner
  • Check in every 2–4 weeks with your partner. 
Stop following routines

Routines don’t work for most people. People with young kids, pets, people who travel a lot or work remotely, find it extremely difficult to follow the same routine every day. If you keep trying, yo...

Focus on the process

It is better to focus on the process rather than the outcome. When you focus on the outcome, you slow your growth.

Commit to consistent practice. Focus on the process of getting better every single day. 

Small progress

Most people lack success because they cannot follow a routine to achieve an important goal.

Instead of fighting a losing battle, learn to move around these tasks to start making progress when you can.