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Set systems, not goals

1st Jun 2021 - Cheryl Voon - 2 min read

Have you ever struggled with following through with a goal you were so determined to achieve? Well, sometimes the problem arises when you set certain goals but do not establish a set of systems to work towards the goal you are aiming for.

Firstly, let us differentiate goals and systems. Goals are the result you want to achieve while systems are about developing a repeatable set of actions to achieve those results.

I’m sure everyone can relate to setting a goal and coming across pitfalls that make you give up. Therefore, it is essential to set systems that turn into a habit and become incorporated into your daily routine. It is easy to lose motivation but when something becomes a habit, you would not contemplate whether or not you should do something because it has become ingrained in you.

For example, if your goal is to exercise and once you complete that goal, the result you get is you sweat and exercise. But this can be temporary because your habits do not fuel you to exercise regularly. The outcome will always be the same because the system is still the same.

So what are the systems you can establish? For instance, you can find an exercise buddy you can be accountable towards. Update and motivate each other on your exercise progress or you can exercise with them! Another way is to prepare your workout clothes the night before and place them at a visible spot so you will be reminded to exercise the following day. You can also prepare a workout song playlist you can dive right into when you exercise! These are all examples of systems you can create to work towards your goal.

This method can be applied to various aspects of your life. Goals such as keeping your room tidy, getting First-Class Honours or earning €1000 can all be achieved when you establish systems to work towards them. Goals are great for setting directions but systems are best for making progress.

You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fail to the level of your system - James Clear, Atomic Habits

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Adopted from Atomic Habits book by James Clear

For a shorter video illustration, check out this Youtube video

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