I’ve been struggling with understanding what my goals are in my new business. I have come up with the following general goals:
- Spend more quality time with my family.
- Dedicate myself to the service of others.
- Reduce my stress levels by taking control of my life and work.
I’ve also set myself some very specific goals around financial success.
- Financial indépendance within the first year of my business. £5K per month as the first target.
- My first £50K month within the first 18 months
The problem with Goals
Recently I’ve been trying to get good habits into my life (and working on the bad ones!). I’ve been reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. It turns out that goals have some inherent problems and James suggests in the early chapters that we should maybe forget about the Goals. He suggests there are a few problems inherent with Goals:
Problem 1. Winners and Losers both have goals.
Only one person can put on the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, there’s only one Job which you are being interviewed for alongside a shortlist of other candidates. What about the second placed cyclist or the guys who didn’t get the job offer?
Problem 2. What happens when you achieve your goal?
What if I achieve my Goal of reducing my stress my meditating and then stop meditating? Will the stress come back? I have lost 9 stone (that’s about 130lb in American speak or about 65 kilos in metric) in weight using a diet plan, twice in my life. The first time I lost the weight, I stopped going to slimming class and, due to some changes in my life, the weight piled back on.
Problem 3. Goals do not equate to happiness.
Consider this. If you get that next promotion at work, will you be happy? If you think the answer is ‘yes’ then you may need to prepare to be disappointed. The goal of a promotion will probably result in a transitory feeling of elation or pride, but longer term, the work will probably be more challenging and may well be less rewarding, especially if you are stepping away from a technical role you love into a more supervisory one. Maybe not everyone experiences this but get this: the next promotion (which will supposedly make you even happier) is a long way away.
Problem 4. Goals get in the way of sustained, long term progress.
So what will happen when I get the first £50K month? Will I sit back and relax? I’ll need to work just as hard the following month to achieve another £50K month unless…..
Habits as Systems
“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”Charles C. Nobel
Did Team Sky win their first Tour de France by only focussing on the goal?
It turns out that they evolved a system of identifying and implementing a series of improvements they termed “Marginal Gains”, a system of improving a large number of small elements for their training. These included things like:
- A scientific approach to nutrition involving things like fasted and low carb training regimes but also tailored nutrition plans which the Team members also enjoyed.
- Stationary bikes at the start and end of races (this is now widely seen for all teams at the end of races but Team Sky pioneered it)
- Painting the tour bus insides white so that specks of dust (which can interfere with the mechanical working of the bikes) can be easily seen.
- Meticulously calculating the energy requirements and frequency of fuelling whilst on the race.
None of these (and the myriad other small changes) on their own would win the Tour but combined, they created an environment where Team Sky (now Team Ineos) have won the Tour 5 out of the last 6 years running.
What does this mean for Us?
Should we do away with Goals? I’d suggest that our Goals are statements of direction, but it’s the systems we put in place to work towards those goals which are more important.
Some systems I have put in place for my journey towards my goals. Some I discovered by learning from my mentors, others I’m picking up from my reading and studies along the SFM journey.
System 1. Meditate every day.
I’ve subscribed to a Meditation App on my phone, which guides me and teaches me how to control my thoughts and is already showing great signs in my reduced stress and improved productivity. Look out for a further post on this subject soon.
System 2. Exercise regularly.
I either Cycle or complete my Calisthenics Routines (I’ve even got systems in place to achieve goals in this area on it’s own). This is a great way to focus your mind on the day’s objectives whilst keeping a healthy body, key to drive forward with energy.
System 3. Write a Journal every day.
I have created a structure of my daily journal, and a system in place to review it at regular intervals to track my progress against my goals. I’ve no doubt this will change over time as the most useful parts become clearer.
System 4. Read
I read every day for 30-60 minutes. The time is set aside in my diary, I have a comfortable chair in the corner of my kitchen. I have also invested in another App, Blinkist, which allows me to read an entire book in 30-60 minutes. This then helps me to moderate my reading and helps me decide whether to invest in the full version if necessary. The desired output of this reading also greatly contributes to my content creation goals
System 5. Invest in Myself
I found that the SFM training is the ultimate system to help achieve my Goals above. I’m building a platform for growth, learning as I’m building. The platform is almost ready to go, automated and ready to support my financial goals. I’ve still got work to do on my campaigns as at time of writing but I know that my platform will be instrumental in my future. Not only that but it also provides an inspirational community of mentors to hold me accountable, it also helps me to get into and maintain a growth mindset.
We should by all means have our Goals but more importantly we should recognise that the systems we put in place to move us towards these goals are probably more important. And the system of habits contained within these systems are more likely to achieve the results we desire.
What systems have you put in place? Let me know in the comments section for this post. I’d love to learn from your experiences in this area.