The New Year is only a few days young. Why am I telling you to burn your New Year’s resolution (NYR) list? Because, simply, most of you will not succeed so don’t waste your time. I do not mean that to be overly harsh or critical. I am just going by the numbers, and the numbers are grossly stacked against you. 80% of people fail their NYR by the second week of February.1 So it’s nothing against you. This is just emotionless numbers talking.
So what to do? You are a goal-driven person that needs something to work towards. And that’s great! I have nothing against that. I just think you would be better served establishing systems instead of setting goals. And I have a lot of anecdotal evidence backing this up both for me personally and for the many people I have worked with over the years. What is the difference between goals and systems? Simply, a goal is a target and is hopefully measurable and time bound; a system is a way of doing things. So let me dive into what establishing systems looks like.
A common NYR is to lose weight, and sometimes it can be modified with an actual number like “I want to lose 15lbs.” There are potentially several problems here, but I will keep to discussing systems versus goals. If you want to lose weight you might identify that you need to workout or eat differently. If you want working out to be a part of the process then set up a system like “moving for 30 min everyday” or “going to the gym MWF each week.” If you establish that diet is the key to losing weight (bingo!) then create a system like “eat a vegetable at every meal” or “cut out the added sugar in my coffee and tea.”
The key is finding the highest leverage point and then consistently pushing on it. To stick with the “lose 15lbs” NYR, you need to find what small change is going to elicit the biggest outcome. And then you need to create a system around that small change. Doing that one small thing will aggregate into a really big change given time and consistency – thanks compound interest! What that particular change is will be dictated, in this example of losing weight, by your current health, diet, and lifestyle. If you’re a smoker, quit smoking. If you are working 3rd shift, try to find a new job or at least mitigate the effects of your work schedule. If you eat added sugar, cut it out and replace it with fruits and vegetables. Create a system around these habits!
Now listen, I am not saying that goals are a bad idea in every situation. I am just saying that I have worked with a lot of people who come to me after setting goals and never attaining them. Make the goal secondary. Make it a side effect of executing your new system.
If you need help creating a system to help you achieve a desired end, talk to me or one of the coaches at Ktown! We can help you create systems by finding leverage points in your daily life that will help you achieve whatever goal(s) you might have. If you don’t yet have a movement practice or place to work out, create a system of training by joining CrossFit Ktown!
A lot of the credit for systems versus goals thinking goes to Morgan Housel of Collaborative Fund who turned me onto Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. Adams was, as far as I can tell, the first to really put this ‘goals versus systems’ thinking into clear words.
Now if only I could execute my blog posting system…