In January 2019 I set an arbitrary goal: bench press 250 pounds.
This represented a gain of about 30 pounds over what I thought I could bench press.
Within a few weeks (February 5th to be exact) I hit my goal of 250 pounds on a barbell bench press.
It was a dumb goal.
For starters, it was an arbitrary number. Why not 255? 245? 275? I just plucked 250 pounds out of the air.
Worse, it was finite. Meaning, when I hit my goal – what next? Do I stop going to the gym? Do I pick a new goal? Do I go take up yoga instead?
Numerical goals are for amateurs.
Run a 10K, lose 10 pounds, eat 5 vegetables.
At my old 9-5 job we were required to set numerical goals.
How much were sales going to increase? What would our sales-to-quota figures be? How many millions in revenue?
Each January we’d huddle together in an AirBNB, order takeout and plaster arbitrary, made-up guesses on the wall.
I usually found myself lost in thought, chewing on a pencil, wondering what made-up number to slap on the wall under my name so we could end the torturous annual ritual.
Looking back, we were the best darn goal-setters the small-business world had ever seen.
We could set goals with the best of them! You’d be so impressed if you saw our windows, dry erase boards and flip charts covered with all of our trumped up, arbitrary, numerical goals.
We rarely (if ever) actually achieved those goals. And if we did – we couldn’t trace the breadcrumb trail back to where or why we were successful.
At best – it was luck. Coincidence.
Got it Cody – goals are dumb… what do you recommend?
Systems > goals.
Professionals create systems.
When I started my podcast in 2018 my goal wasn’t “start a podcast” or “record 100 episodes”.
Rather, I crafted a fool-proof system to be able to collect dots, connect dots, and record them on the podcast like clockwork.
This included a Trello board with a list titled “Episode Ideas”. Each week I’d move the top 3 ideas over to the “In Progress” List; bringing them to the front of my mind. Then I’d sit down with a cup of coffee and hit record.
I became the type of person that records each week, rain or shine, in town or at a conference, at home or on vacation. I didn’t miss a week; 260 episodes in less than 2 years.
If you’ve set a fitness related goal – switch that to the system you need to create to fulfill that goal. The night before, lay out workout clothes, mix a pre-workout shake and leave it in the fridge, and start a wind-down routine 2 hours before bedtime.
Want to declutter your home in 2020? Cool, create a system that will allow you to become the type of person that keeps a tidy living space.
Save more money? Create a system that will help you get there.
If you’ve written down your goals for the year (or quarter, month, or week) … no problem. No judgment here.
…But I challenge you to recast your goal (lose weight, save money, launch a side hustle) as a system that will help you crush that goal.
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals… you fall to the level of your systems” (get the book here; I can’t recommend it highly enough).
Once you create the system the goals take care of themselves.
~ Cody “Systemize Me” Burch