Friday, January 03, 2020

What is more important than your goals for 2020?

I was recently reading my annual goals going back to 2013 and I began spotting a pattern. The goals I achieved had something in common, same as the goals I did not achieve. Over the past seven years, I was far more likely to have achieved goals that were backed by systems. I was also far less likely to have achieved goals that were not.

For example, my goal to weigh 80kg first showed up in September 2014. It was specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound. I stuck it on my wall. It was in the list I sent to my accountability partner. But nothing happened. Actually – something happened: I added more weight! That goal showed up again in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. I did not achieve it until October 2019.

So, what changed in 2019? Why did I finally achieve this goal after five years? I put a system behind it. I turned exercise into a habit and started counting calories. I achieved the goal within five months of implementing a system!

My goals were good for setting a direction, but a system was required to make progress. People who succeed and those who don’t often share the same goals, so goals cannot be what differentiates winners from losers. Many people want to find happier work, live healthy, and save more money. The people who achieve these goals are those who put a system behind them.

What does this mean for your 2020? Congratulations if you’ve already set SMART goals – now spend some time thinking about the required systems. Do you need to meditate for 10 minutes every morning or spend 30 minutes on LinkedIn Learning every other day? That is what you need to track and measure.

Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Fix your habits and the outcomes will follow.

What new habits will you develop in order to achieve the goals you’ve set for this year?

Cheers to your best year yet!

This post was also inspired by James Clear's Atomic Habits (JC): sentences in italics are direct quotes. It's my favorite book from last year and I am starting this year by reading it again.

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