In the life coaching community a lot of discussion has emerged following the publication of Scott Adams’s best-selling book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. The subject is Adams’ rejection of the traditional goal-setting approach to success. Instead, he proposed that the development of a system that is incorporated in people’s daily routine is more suitable in helping build success and achieve one’s goals.
In his book Adams argues that goal setting actually hinders success since if a person cannot achieve it they will become disappointed and may abandon it. Goal setting can become a recipe for continuous disappointment, fatigue and unhappiness in life and only determined and tenacious people will persevere by pursuing it.
The system-based approach entails setting more manageable goals into daily routine. In other words, a goal can broken down into steps that a person can take towards the goal. This way goals are easier to achieve and the process becomes a constant source of fulfillment and happiness. By making these steps part of daily routine, they will turn into habits, and since people are creatures of habit, they will be working systematically towards their goal until it is finally met.
If, for example, a student dreams of becoming a successful business executive, he would need to take several steps towards meeting his lifelong goal. He would need to enroll at a reputable university with a good business studies curriculum, study hard and obtain good grades, attend career days, invest time in keeping his profile updated in the social media, in order to build his professional network, and find a good company to start his career. All of the above steps can be considered secondary goals, and achieving each requires breaking it down to more manageable chucks. For example, the same student desires good grades, as part of his ambition. He would need to amend his daily schedule around that goal: attending classes, taking good notes, and completing assignments. Thus, by breaking down the goal into manageable “chunks”, the student remains on target and is satisfied knowing that every step he takes brings him closer to his dreams.
The system applies to less ambitious goals as well. A woman hopes to lose weight, but considers that this goal may be unattainable due to her eating habits. So instead of being focused on the goal, she can opt to eat healthier snacks, like fruit and protein bars, than chips and ice-cream. She can also decide to exercise for 20 minutes daily in order to better control her weight. It becomes apparent that this way she is coming closer to her goal, step by step, and becomes certain that slowly but surely she will begin to lose weight.
Adopting a system will still require commitment. So goal-driven and persistent individuals are more likely to succeed. However, the way the system approach works, it can also benefit someone less determined, since they will have to tackle less difficult challenges that require less willpower and planning to surmount.
To sum up, systems are essentially habits and activities that people implement to work towards achieving a goal. They appear to be more beneficial than traditional goal-setting methods, since they give people a sense of fulfillment, while working on the goal, not when and if they reach it. They appear to be easier for most people to work with, since they require less willpower and planning to implement. However, choosing either the new or the traditional method boils down to personal preference; some people may actually love the challenge of setting harder goals, fueled by the desire for a more substantial one-off fulfillment.
Gentle reminder: The information on this article is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare professional and should not be considered as professional advise. Please seek appropriate medical help when necessary.