Don’t Worry Too Much About Goals, Focus on Systems

November 3, 2019

Categories: Goals,Habits

If you walk through the self-help section of the bookstore (or do a quick search on Amazon), you will see a lot of books on setting goals. We focus a lot on goal-setting. And goals are important, to a certain extent. Goals help us set the direction for where we want to go.

Don’t Focus Too Much on Goals

But sometimes I think we get too caught up with focusing on our goals. Author James Clear argues that if you really want to be successful, don’t focus too much on your goals. Instead, focus on your systems and daily habits.

Everyone Has the Same Goals

One of the most interesting points he makes is that everyone has the same goals. This isn’t completely true, of course, but in general, if you ask a bunch of people what their goals are, you will see a lot of convergence. For example, almost everyone has a goal about health. No one says, “You know what? This year I want to gain 20 pounds and double my cholesterol.”

Most people have financial goals that involve saving for the future or getting out of debt. No one says, “I’d love to max out my credit cards and get totally slammed with debt this year.”

Relationships? Same thing. Most people want to improve the health and closeness of their relationships with their family and friends. Spirituality? Same thing. Most people want to be closer to God. And so it goes.

Systems and Habits

So, if everyone has the same goals, why doesn’t everyone achieve the same level of success? It’s usually not because they don’t have the right goals. It’s because they don’t have the right systems in place that enable them to achieve those goals. They don’t have healthy habits in place that empower them to make progress toward their goals.

New Year’s Resolution?

How many of you are still keeping your New Year’s Resolution from 2019? Probably not many. This year, maybe forget about setting a new goal, and instead focus on the systems and habits you have in your life. That’s where the money really is.


What do you think about the distinction between goals and systems/habits? Have you ever had the experience of setting a goal, only to fail at the goal the next week (or even the next day)? How could you work to improve your systems and habits, so that you could see improvement over the long haul?


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