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The Problem with Goal Setting: How to Create Systems Not Goals

Posted by Chris Baker on

For years I kept my bedroom a complete mess and didn’t see the point of making my bed.

However, about a year ago I came across this great speech by Navy Seal Admiral William McRaven that changed my life.

"If you make your bed every morning you'll have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. 

By the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed." Adm. William McRaven

If your room is untidy, your mind is untidy. They bleed into one another where there is chaos and not order.

No matter what the day throws at you, coming back home to a clean room will help you feel better. These small tasks can have a huge impact.

Why don't New Year's resolutions last? 

Strava, a social network for athletes, analysed more than 31.5 million fitness records from its users and found that the second Friday in January is the fateful day when most of our annual commitments start to crumble.

So within two weeks, most people have given up on their new year's resolutions.

Creating systems, not goals

Systems can be a better option instead of setting a list of new goals like we always do on January 1st. I read this great blog post by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits called System vs Goals. 

Some examples of systems vs goals:

Goal: Read 50 books per year

System: Spend one hour reading each night before bed

Goal: Run the Big Sur Marathon

System: Run for 30 minutes a day

Goal: Be more present and appreciative of the moment

SystemMeditate and journal first thing, every morning

Big Sur Road curving around corner

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short term. But in the long run, a well-designed system will always win.  Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

How to apply systems 

Take out your journal and get clear on what YOU want to change. Be honest with yourself and what YOU want to work on. Spend the morning in your favourite coffee shop, and get it all down on paper.

Now that you have your goals and ideas. Break these down into systems.

Let go. Then go!

Once you have laid this all out, let go of your goals and forget about the outcomes. You have set your intention and direction. Now focus on showing up and making a little progress every day. 

Your daily commitment to the process will determine your progress. Your mood will improve when you take action each day. You will feel better after you do the run. You will feel better after you meditate, journal and call your friend - because you took action.

Mood follows action. 

As Joan Baez once said,

Action is the antidote to despair.”

I hope you enjoyed this insight. If you are struggling to identify what you want or just need some initial direction to get started. Let us know.

We would be more than happy to help you and chat about getting you going. 

With love from all of us at No Ordinary Moments.

Have the most magical day xxx

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