To Make Progress, We Need Systems

Goals help us set the direction we want to go. But goals by themselves are rarely enough. As James Clear notes in his book Atomic Habits, “winners and losers have the same goals”.

If successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates winners from losers. A goal is, after all, just a declaration of intention. After clarifying where we want to go, we need to start walking so we eventually get there.

To actually make progress, we need systems. This applies to people and organizations.

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

A systems-first mentality provides the antidote. When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.

— James Clear, Atomic Habits

Journey before destination.

habits goals systems

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