Winners And Losers Have The Same Goals

Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level.
— James Clear
Winners and losers have the same goals

Winners And Losers Have The Same Goals

What popped into your head with the title of this piece? All I could think was, how did I never think of this before? The words leapt off the page in the midst of devouring Atomic Habits by James Clear. Clear is one of the world’s leading experts in the formation of habits. It makes so much damn sense. Your goal is not what makes you successful, your habits are. That's your system to success. Success is the eventual measure of good habits.

Goal setting is something I always hated doing with clients. I found it too much like school. Not to mention I had the personal experience of recognizing that I and the people I work with set goals based on our limiting beliefs. Setting goals too early in the process limits what you're capable of. I could have set a goal to lose 10 pounds last year, but instead I established a system. I wanted to go to the gym a minimum of three times a week and walk 10,000 steps a day. What do you think the results of my good habits were? I lost 30 pounds. A 300% increase over what I had initially set as a goal.

Clear explains why systems-versus-goals should be your new standard. "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.

“Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers. It wasn't the goal of winning the Tour de France that propelled the British cyclists to the top of the sport. Presumably, they had wanted to win the race every year before — just like every other professional team. The goal had always been there. It was only when they implemented a system of continuous small improvements that they achieved a different outcome."

Another useful thing to keep in mind when developing a system is asking the question where are you trying to end up? Success leaves breadcrumbs. Stop focusing on what people do and start questioning why they do it. Having that answer puts you light years ahead of everyone else.

Choosing to put your habits under the microscope is the only way to predict the future. Your daily habits set your trajectory. Are yours aimed in a direction you want to go? It's the difference between landing in Florida and the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

It's easy to get sucked into being future-focused. Obsessing over where you want to go is like driving a car with horse blinders. You might be effective in moving forward, but there's an entire world in your peripherals that you're completely blind to. That's a problem.

But if you look at your life in bite-sized chunks (day-to-day), you can eat an elephant in a year. It might not be quick, it might not be easy but making tiny changes every single day compound each other. Eventually, you hit a point where momentum takes over. This is what we usually view as overnight success. Which is complete bullshit. There's no such thing as an overnight success. Success comes from good habits. It's not nearly as complicated as you think it is. But it will take far longer than you think it will take.

And if you're somebody who wants to have some staying power in your life and business, you want it to take a long time. Because that means you know what the hell you're doing. People that rise to success with little experience have little-to-nothing to draw from when shit goes south. And shit always goes south.

But if you've been building these habits day-after-day, you have the skill-set to weather the storm. You have a clear advantage over everyone else because you've been preparing for this. It's like your own little bomb shelter that has absolutely everything you need to survive. You're not just leaving shit to chance. It's stacking the odds in your favour.

Stacking habits is as easy as looking at something you've already been doing with some success and introducing something new. You're going to brush your teeth every day. What's another good habit you could follow up with immediately? It could be go for a walk, meditate, write or think about one thing you're grateful for. It could be to tell your partner that you appreciate them for something specific. You might be wondering how these kinds of habits could do anything for you and I get it, they sound way too simple. But this gets at the core of Tony Robbin's philosophy, which is, success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. We all know people like this. On paper they seem to have everything but they're miserable bastards.

Success does not create fulfillment. Fulfillment creates success. You won't be happy all the time, but if you fail to find happiness in your current life, you won’t ever find it. You could be the richest man in the world and be poor as hell when it comes to fulfillment. And nothing is more painful than feeling like you have it all but being miserable. That's what happens when your success is based on an external world. So once again, how are your daily habits serving you? Maybe it's time to stop setting goals and start designing a system for leading a happy, healthy, purpose-driven life and business.

Matt Damon talks about his early years, hustling around to auditions and figuring out that he was going to need to do something different to stand out.