How Great are Goals, Really?



A couple weeks ago I watched this youtube video called Goals vs. Systems, linked below. It really got me thinking. Setting goals has always been something I perceived as a positive thing. And I still believe goals are important. But I also realized that although I have always believed in setting goals, I've also more strongly implemented creating functional systems in my life that allow my goals to transpire. Having goals alone is not enough.


The video was based on the book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, by Scott Adams. A book that is now on my must read list. They described the following:


Goals: reach it and be done objectives, easy to sell, easy to fail.

Systems: What you do on a regular basis with the general expectation of improving.


So, with regard to running: having a time you wish to achieve for a specific distance, like the marathon, is a goal. On the other hand, learning to train consistently, exercising and finding movement daily, is the development of a system. Accomplishing goals can occur within that system as well. Once a goal is accomplished, it is over. It is also something that has the potential to not be accomplished, making it really scary for some. The possibility of failure looms (but failure is a topic for another day).


A demeanor of rigidly pursuing your goal can potentially close you off to opportunity and growth. Developing a system by which allows you to rise and accomplish things helps you achieve your pursuits while simultaneously being open to experience. This makes me things of the monarch butterflies on their migrations. These tiny creatures fly thousands of miles. Butterflies flit and float. They are not driven on a direct route from point A to point B over thousands of miles. They flutter about from plant to plant, they land, they pollinate, they fly in every direction. They get to their destination, and on the way they experienced all the things.


Goals are very direct. They are not all-encompassing. They are rather simplistic. If longevity and long-term success are important to you, developing effective systems for yourself to exist in is more necessary than setting a goal. Don't get me wrong, goals are great. But systems are primary. Goals are really useful in order to finish a workout, achieve your set interval times, get the number of repetitions done that you need.


The systemic approach is everything when it comes to your lifelong relationship with running and your personal wellness. When we focus more on systems that goals, we are able to develop transferrable skills. Our way of being, our thought process, our resiliency, our ability to problem solve: these are all things that we can develop within your system of running that can be applied to any aspect of your life. I can't help but recognize how important spending energy on developing systems is right now, with regard to running and life. This is a time when there is endless opportunity to develop your own system, without the distraction of races interfering with figuring out who you are as a runner and how you are as a person.


Systems are your way of life.

The way you run.

The way you approach your fitness.

The mindset you have in the way you tackle each day.

The kindness you show to your body and mind.


Create a system that allows you to strive and thrive.

Create a system that will allow you to find your value in each day, and appreciate your body and mind.

Create a system that allows you to seek improvement, and consistently bear witness to your improvement.


It really is true that systems lead to success. And as this video says, "success is luck multiplied by the skills you obtain. You can accelerate skill development, improve awareness of opportunities, and increase the possibility of luck finding you."





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