How to Actually Achieve Your Goals

EverythingTech
Jan 21 · 3 min read
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The Problem with Goals

The majority of people think setting yourself a goal and thinking about it enough will eventually mean you achieve it. This is partly true because a goal is needed for you to achieve something. However, it is not the main thing you should be focused on; it simply acts as a compass to guide you towards the systems that will actually help you achieve your goals. The evidence used to explain this is that almost everyone in a competition has the same goal, for example, if you’re part of a sports team in a competition, every other team in the competition has the same goal of winning, but the team that wins it is the team which follows a system guided by their goal.

James Clear wrote in his worldwide bestseller Atomic Habits: “Problem #1 Winners and losers have the same goals. Goal setting suffers from a serious case of survivorship bias. We concentrate on the people who end up winning — the survivors — and mistakenly assume that ambitious goals led to their success while overlooking all of the people who had the same objective but didn’t succeed.”

How to Think about your Goals

It is important to have a traditional goal such as “Becoming good at drawing” or “Learning to Code”. But to help yourself understand what it is you should be actually doing to achieve your goal, it is a good idea to set yourself a SMART goal (Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Relevant / Time-based). For example, instead of having “Learning to Code” as your goal, you can tweak the goal to something like “By {date}, I want to be able to code a clone of a {app/website/…}”, this is only a very specific example but you can apply this to almost every goal.

It is also believed that goals are also bad because you will feel unhappy until you achieve them. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t feel unhappy if you didn’t complete your goals, and if you are, you’re doing things wrong. Instead of comparing yourself to others, you should compare yourself to your past self; that way you will always see progress even if it is by 1%.

After Setting a SMART Goal

When you’re done thinking about your goal and converting it into a smart goal, you should start thinking about creating a system to follow. This is the most important part; you have to love the process or at least do it religiously. You almost want to forget about your goal and put all of your focus into perfecting the system and not missing a day or a week. For example, a system can be allocating 10 hours of your time per week to coding, this is probably an extreme system so don’t worry if it’s just 1 hour a week. If you follow it for long enough, eventually you will succeed. There is a 0% chance of you not achieving your (realistic) goal if you follow a system associated with it for long enough, this can be 1 month for some, or it can take 2+ years, it all depends on the kind of goal and the system.

Focus on the system to a point where you should be barely looking at your progress, only look at your progress once in a while to make sure you’re going in the right direction and remember, only judge your progress compared to your past self; even a 1% improvement from your past self will eventually become extremely significant due to the power of compounding.

Lastly, I would like to quote another part of James Clear’s Atomic Habits:

Fall in Love with Systems

None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

EverythingTech

Written by

GCSE student interested in tech, football, and productivity/learning techniques

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

EverythingTech

Written by

GCSE student interested in tech, football, and productivity/learning techniques

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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