Sunday, January 02, 2022

What is more important than your 2022 goals?

A picture from my NY walk in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Happy New Year 2022!

I hope you enjoyed the holidays and found some time to reflect on the past year. I also hope you found things to be grateful for. I took my own advice and spent some time on the 31st listing highs and lows from 2021. I then read the entire list out loud in gratitude.

As we head into 2022, I wanted to share a simple concept that I rely on to help achieve my goals. Whether you’re applying this to a personal or professional goal, you’ll find it significantly increases the chances that you can achieve your goals.


There are two goals that appear in my annual list of goals every year starting 2014. One was to weigh 80kg. I first set this after realizing my waistline had increased two sizes in about eight months. The second was to write more frequently and consistently, rather than in bursts and only when I felt like it.

It took several years to achieve both these goals for the first time. In fact, not only did I not achieve them for years, I even regressed – gaining more weight and writing even less.

While reflecting on these ‘repeat offenders’ early in 2019, I began wondering why I achieved some goals but not others. To answer this question, I looked for similarities between the goals I achieved and those I did not. I found that I was significantly more likely to have achieved goals that were backed by systems. I was also far less likely to have achieved goals that were not backed by these systems.

Take for example my goal to write more frequently and consistently through the year. This is something I care deeply about. Writing helps me clarify my thinking and share some of it with others. However, despite my strong motivation, I did not start writing more frequently and consistently until I created a system in 2021 - write for 2 to 3 hours every Sunday morning.

This insight is not unique to me. Many authors and researchers have written about systems, also called controllable input metrics or process goals. A lot of the talk about goals focuses on outcome goals, the ones that specify what we want to achieve. But we don’t often think about process goals or systems, the ones that specify what we will do to achieve those outcomes. The challenge is that this can leave us unclear on what we need to do daily, weekly, or monthly to achieve what we would like to.

What does this mean for you in 2022? Congratulations if you’ve already done the thinking and written out your SMART goals. That’s great. If you haven’t already – no pressure as there’s still lots of time. In addition to the outcome goals you’ve set, you should now consider spending some time thinking about the required process goals. Do you need to eat fewer than 1800 calories a day? Do you need to submit two job applications in your target industry every Saturday morning? Do you need to read for 30 minutes every evening before you go to bed?

When December 2022 rolls around and you’re looking back on this year, it is highly likely the process goals will have made all the difference in whether you have achieved your outcome goals or not.

Cheers to 2022!


What I’m currently reading: To start the year, I am re-reading Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work, and James Clear’s Atomic Habits; in that order. These are three of the best books I have ever read, and I learn something new every time I re-read them. So Good They Can’t Ignore You offers a competency-based approach to building a rewarding career, in contrast to the more popular (and more romantic) passion-based approach. I’m starting with that one because I’m thinking a lot about my career now and a lot has changed since I last read it in 2018.

What I’m currently listening to: My heart was drawn to Rich Mullins’ Sometimes by Step while out on a walk yesterday. I was thinking about the journey I’ve been on over the past few years and how I hadn’t foreseen many of the biggest opportunities or changes. It felt like a reminder that God leads step by step and my role is to make the most of every step and keep following in faith.

O God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
And I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

Here's an Hillsong Worship (partial) cover:


Have a fab week ahead! ❤️

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