At the beginning of this year, I started by writing a blog post about my goals for 2019. Looking at it now I realized how ambitious I was and how much time it would require to do all the things from the list. Something else I noticed is how little I changed my daily system to achieve those goals. I can confidently say that setting goals is not an optimal way of achieving something. That is why I am trying a different tactic this year. I will work on setting a new daily system instead of focusing on my goals for 2020. Of course, I will set some goals for 2020, but those goals will be of lesser importance than my daily workflow.
Goals vs Systems
So what is the big deal with systems? As with everything, boiling a thing down to its core elements can reveal quite a bit about the original thing. Setting goals is problematic in two fundamental ways:
- Goals are future-oriented and they are missing the crucial fast feedback loop
- Goals tell little on how to achieve them
So, to fix those two main issues the focus should be on systems instead of goals. This is one of those things that remains unnoticed until someone points it out. Everyone has a system that they follow in their daily life. The question is, is that the daily system set up in such a way that can help you achieve your goals? Most probably not, because goals require doing new things and that in turn requires acquiring new habits. Allocating time into a daily schedule is a crucial step in implementing the right system.
So, systems provide a solution to two major flows of setting goals outlined above. Firstly, systems are something that can be exercised daily, and the feedback loop is immediate. It’s as simple as asking a question, did I do 30 minutes of deep work on my new project today or not? If not, then I did not make any progress! The actual goal I am trying to achieve is hanging in the air. This feedback loop occurs every day and it’s a simple reminder that the actual goal I am perusing is not getting done any time soon. Another benefit of systems is that when we define a system to follow, we inherently have to come up with a plan on what behaviors will help in achieving that particular goal. For example, let’s say my goal in 2020 is to have a 10k mailing list. The goal itself does not mean anything unless we create a system around it to accomplish that. One such system is to set a time to write for 30 minutes, daily. That, in turn, requires changes to daily workflow. One could allocate that time right after work (and in doing that utilize a technique called habit stacking). Every day that those 30 minutes are skipped will be a reminder that the goal of 10k subscribers was just a wish on a piece of paper.
So, instead of plans for 2020, I will focus on systems and how to create a better system for myself. Currently, my system looks like this
- Wake up early, do some reading get inspired for the day
- Work 9 – 5
- Write a couple of paragraphs for my blog from 5 – 5:30
- Go home and rest
That’s it. That is my aim for 2020, a simple system to follow daily!