How do we get what we want out of life?
What’s the best way to achieve the outcomes we want?
The most common way to do this is to set a goal. Know what you want and go after it, easy. Right?
Think about New Years Eve when everyone comes up with their ‘Resolutions’. You know the type. It’s why the gym fills up for the first few weeks of the year then drops off.
Goals are a clearly flawed system. Having an end goal in mind is great, but having no path to get there is a recipe for failure.
In Scott Adam’s How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big, he discusses the concept of creating systems to achieve an outcome. For example, say you want to lose weight. You must create a system that controls what you eat, when you eat, how much etc. Putting all these variable together creates a system that you follow day in and day out.
As opposed to goals, we’re not overly concerned with quantitative measures. Rather, if we know that certain actions will help us lose weight and come closer to our desired outcome, then we should stick to those religiously.
The Problem With Goals
Say you want to lose 30 lbs. 4 months later you do. Awesome! But now what?
You’ve reached your goal. Should you give up?
Should you try to lose more weight?
Should you take a ‘break’ for a few weeks and indulge in some sweets?
This is one of the major problems with goals. They’re only good until you achieve them.
Can’t I just create a new goal?
Sure, but why not just have a system in place that would bring about that goal? Why worry about hitting numbers each week (month, day etc.) and just focus on what’s in your control?
Additionally, this ignores the sad truth that most people don’t even come close to achieving their goals.
Wanting to wave a magic wand and achieve your dream outcome sounds nice, but the truth is that it takes hard work. You need a road map to get you there.
Why Most People Use Goals
The reason many people set goals is because it’s an easy way to quantify: Losing 30 lbs. is something you can easily look at and track regularly.
It also sounds nice. Most people like to fantasize and day dream. They think “Gosh, it would be so nice to lose weight.” For them, just thinking about losing weight will give them a little dopamine boost. But when it comes to planning their days it begins to sound to daunting:
- Getting rid of all processed food.
- Waking up at 5 AM before work to hit the gym.
- Declining dessert after a nice meal.
This is what it takes, and most people aren’t even willing to go as far as to make that mental investment.
Realistically, setting goals is not the end of the world. You’re clearly in the right direction if you’re setting these goals, it’s just that goals simply lack the day-to-day guidelines that you realistically need to achieve success.
Goals are too Emotional (Be a Robot Instead)
Failing to reach your goal is going to lead to negativity.
Why did I fail? I thought I did everything right?
And guess what happens after that—you give up. The fact that people aren’t able to achieve their goal without a system may lead someone…
Instead, when you want to achieve a result, you want to act like a robot. You need to act as if you’re programmed to take certain actions. Failing to do so would be an error in the system. Think: Does not compute
Pretend you’re a robot who is programmed to eat only whole, fresh foods—no sugar or processed foods. It’s not as a hard as you think.
This may get a bit monotonous. It may mean eating the same food all the time, but that’s what it takes. Also, as Scott Adams points out, making the right choices between foods such as potatoes and pasta is crucial and must be added into your system. Obviously, this requires you having a basic understanding of nutritional principles.
Track Your Adherence to the System
When you create your system, you want to make sure that you’re ticking all your boxes for the variables in your system. Progress can sometimes be fickle, but if your system is solid, and you’re following it to a T, progress will surely come.
If you find yourself lacking in discipline, you’ve got a lot of work to do. To start, I can suggest three resources:
- 16 Habits You Should Do Every Day (via The Kratos Guide): I’ve read thousands and thousands of articles online—only a few I can say have resonated with me as much as this article. It’s because I actually use the system he lays out and have been doing it for at least 3 years. It’s an absolute must.
- 30 Days of Discipline by Victor Pride: This is the manual that teaches you how to get your $hit together. It’s tough, but it can be done, and must be done if you wnt to get disciplined.
- And of course the chapter in How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big on Systems vs. Goals.
Goals sound great, but their track record is less than superb. Creating systems is a must to achieve what you want out life.
Take these ideas into account next time you want to set a goal–you’ll be much more likely to succeed.