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It’s Time We All Ditch Goals. Instead Give Yourself a Game You Can Win


How important is Goal setting?

Do you need it to be successful?

Can you achieve greatness without Goals?

There was a time that I thought setting goals is a critical part of achieving success. After all, if you don’t have a goal, how do you know if you’re winning or are on the right track?

But overtime I’ve come to realise that having a mindset fixed on Goals is an obstacle for both greatness & happiness.

Quote from Zen Habits:

Consider this common belief: “You’ll never get anywhere unless you know where you’re going.” This seems so common sensical, and yet it’s obviously not true if you stop to think about it. Conduct a simple experiment: go outside and walk in a random direction, and feel free to change directions randomly. After 20 minutes, an hour … you’ll be somewhere! It’s just that you didn’t know you were going to end up there.

And there’s the rub: you have to open your mind to going places you never expected to go. If you live without goals, you’ll explore new territory. You’ll learn some unexpected things. You’ll end up in surprising places. That’s the beauty of this philosophy,

The Problem with Goals:

How many times have you set a goal and not achieved it? Think of the times you’ve set New Year Resolutions and have broken them.

Don’t feel bad. The good news is, it’s not your fault. The problem isn’t you. It’s the system of having Goals that sets you up for failure.

Let’s say you have a goal “To lose 5 KG in the next 3 months”.  It sounds exciting when you put it in front of you. You’re all motivated to take action, but it’s unlikely you’ll achieve it and here’s why:

  • You start going to the gym, but after a few days other more important pressing priorities will come up that you didn’t anticipate. Now you’ve fallen off the track.
  • Instead of focusing on the journey, you’re focused on the final outcome of losing weight. But change is almost always incremental. Given the grand vision of your goal, you disregard the progress you do make. And you end up demotivated.
  • You may be regular at the gym and you may be eating healthy but for some reason you’re not losing weight. The outcome is not in your control. Inspite of all your  effort since you didn’t achieve the “goal”, it feels like you have failed. .

Instead of Goals, Aim for Systems.

The world is too dynamic to aim for fixed outcomes. Instead build habits or systems that make what you want a natural outcome.

Here are some examples of aiming for Systems instead of Goals:

Goal: Write a book by end of next year.
System: Spend 30 mins a day writing

Goal: Lose 5 KGs in the next 3 months
System: Visit the gym 3 days a week

Goal: Double Sales by next quarter
System: Make 10 calls to prospects

See how this is different from making goals? Instead of focusing on the end outcome, the focus is on:

  • What can be done in the present moment
  • What is in your control
  • Are you making consistent effort?

In short the pillars of a highly productive and fulfilling life!

Advantages of Systems over Goals:

  • You are free to enjoy the present moment by focusing on the habit that can help you feel, be and do what you want. 
  • Your Happiness doesn’t depend on reaching something in the future, but instead of building something in the present – a Habit/System. 
  • You’re aiming for long term change, not short term gratification. And such highs are sustainable and solid.

So stop creating Goals. Instead create systems that push you towards your ideal state of being every day.

Give yourself a game you can win. A game that’s not about competing with the goals of others around you!

You’ll be happier and more successful!

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