I read a great book recently. The book was How to fail at everything and still win big. Or something close to that. It is by Scott Adams – the guy who created Dilbert. There are several great nuggets in this book. One of the best was his assertion that Goals are for losers.
The premise is that a goal brings you to make unrealistic effort for a period of time to achieve said goal. Then once you achieve it you stop the actions that got you there – because they were not sustainable.
Take a diet for instance. The reason they usually fail is that the dieter puts a strict set of rules upon their eating that requires willpower. Willpower only works in short bursts. Not as a life long pursuit. Therefore the goal minded person is setup to fail.
There are other reasons the goal person fails – like quitting because they mess up on their plan, etc… But the bottom line is that it relies upon self denial and willpower… and that makes you lose. Hence Loser.
The solution according to Adams is to be SYSTEMS oriented instead. Don’t say I want to lose 30 pounds. Just make a decision about a system that would be worthwhile and healthy in your life and you will likely end up there – but not because of some arbitrary number you pick… but because your life changes with your new system.
For example, in the scenario above the system could be that you just don’t eat bread. Not a diet. Not for some period of time. Just simply “I dont eat bread.” That is your system. If you mess up or want to eat a piece of bread then its not the end of the world – because you are not doing a diet. You just as a rule dont eat bread. And this will have a positive effect on your weight. Who knows how much – but it will likely be enough to get you where you wanna go.
Another example would be a writer. It would be easy to say… I am going to write a Novel. That is a goal. You have a lot of pressure. You start and stop. You go to a shack in the woods. You read blogs about writing novels. Go to all the right seminars with other writers. And don’t finish your novel.
You just have a system where you write 1000 words a day. Most novels are around 100k words. So you would have your novel done in 4 months. That is a simple system. I’m a writer. I write 1000 words every day. When you focus on the system and the system is tied to who you are and your daily activity – then you will surpass any goals you could have set for yourself.
These days, everyone is an entrepreneur. Everyone has a “side hustle”. But not many people seem to be doing the work. Going deep. Maybe they are too focused on what they want and not on the systems it takes to get there.