Forget your goals and focus on your systems, and you will be successful

Forget your goals and focus on your systems, and you will be successful

When a new year starts, I always do a year planning for myself. What I want to achieve in the upcoming year, 3 year, and what I want to achieve until I will pass and move to God. This ritual has been the same for me. But this year, in 2019, before I jumped in, I read the Atomic Habits from James Clear. And I should admit, it worth the time what I have spent with reading it!

This is the main message of the book: forget your goals and focus on your systems. If you do this, you will be successful. Focus on your identity, and not on your goals. This book can help you a lot to build up your system, your habits, which came from inside, and which can make you what you are.

It has been decided, that I will focus on productivity at  the beginning of this year.  Reading this book just gave me enormous new ideas and techniques, what I can use to build up my productivity system.

That was the reason why I started this book. And soon I also started to enjoy reading it. That is why it took only 2 days to read it.  What made this book really special for me, that is not just provide theory, but includes a lot of example, practices, stories, how you can form your habits, and how others did it. Not to mention, that is has some Hungarian examples as good cases and examples, like the story of the Polgár girls 😀

In a nutshell, what I have summarized for myself are:

  • Small changes today make a huge impact in the future
  • Be patient and plan for the long run. Persistence pays off, if you choose a good habit
  • Focus on your identity not on your goals. Both create results, but results will stick to you if they root in your identity

Small changes today make a huge impact in the future

James Clear explains in his book, why you should focus on small steps, and not huge changes or results. Making something 1% better on a daily basis will make a huge impact on your future. As he describes,

The impact created by a change in your habits is similar to the effect of
shifting the route of an airplane by just a few degrees. Imagine you are
flying from Los Angeles to New York City. If a pilot leaving from LAX
adjusts the heading just 3.5 degrees south, you will land in Washington,
D.C., instead of New York. Such a small change is barely noticeable at
takeoff—the nose of the airplane moves just a few feet—but when magni‑
fied across the entire United States, you end up hundreds of miles apart

He mentioned: goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. (I have read GTD by David Allen, who says the same, but he focuses on your productivity. He also emphasize to have a system.) So what is important, to have your systems, and develop those step by step, day by day, even with tiny changes.

Be patient and plan for the long run

James explains his 4 rules to create good habits and break bad ones. What was interesting for me, and he also emphasizes in this book, that these rules can applied by anybody. Small, but significant changes start with small things. Let me call up 3 things which just stick with me, since I have read the book:

  • Start with small. Even doing something for 2 minutes at the beginning convert success in the long run. Go into a gym in every 2 days for 2 minutes makes you familiar with the space. You get in, look round, do something for 2 minutes, and in a few weeks you will go there as you go home or to work. It will be easy that to move forward and start exercising.
  • Make your habit easy to remember. Make it obvious. For example, I decided to start reading bible every day. I have decided it last year, but it was tragic, how I could not keep this habit in 2018. In 2019, in the last 22 days I read the Bible 20 days. It is more what I have achieved in 3 month last year. How I did it? Simple, and I borrowed this technique from the book. I tide this habit to an other, which is already automatic for me. After I wash my teeth I read the bible. Simple, and why I have not started this a year ago? And the book is full with this kind of simple but effective tricks.
  • Accountability. Have somebody, who you can report, and share what you want. And the other person will have the right to even punish you somehow, if you could not keep your takings. It is not new also, but I have not started to used it before. I should…..

As you can see, these changes are small. They will not make any significant change today. And it is not a problem. I think our society wows the young and instant success. Which is not good and not sustainable. It is ok, if you focus on the future, you will be patient, and waiting until your small changes will end up something different in the future. Be patient.

Focus on your identity not on your goals

With the goals, my biggest problem, that most of the times I cannot keep them. Yep, shame on me. Or not?

In the past few month this question kept coming back: why I could not keep my goals? It turned out, as James Clear wrote about it, that it is really hard to achieve a goal, if it have came from your identity, and does not root in your identity.

If I analyze my previous goals, all of them have been achieved, what I realy wantted to do, because they have rooted in my identity. In the other hand, it is trues I missed most of my goals. It just turned out, that these goals were “forced goals”. Those, which have been told me to do at my company, for example. My manager advised me what to do, I accepted it, but to be honest, I did not had any ownership related to these goals. They were not mine, so I missed them.

It is important to know, who you are, what you want to achieve, and make sure, that you form your habits based on your identity. Somethings from inside, and not outside. Something which you realy like to do.


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