After successful endings, there’s almost nothing more exciting than fresh beginnings. A new book to sink your teeth into, the tingling that comes with creative inspiration for a new story, meeting someone who you know is going to be a great friend and turning the page from one calendar year to the next.
I love beginnings. It’s goals that tend to freak me out. They make me feel challenged and perhaps inadequate. If I don’t set them high enough, I’m a slacker. If I set them too high, I prove I’m a failure.
Serendipitously, I came across an article that suggests while goals are good for planning, they’re not actually beneficial for achieving. Instead, focusing on your system, or process, is the key.
Here’s what James Clear (isn’t that the perfect name?) says about the difference between goals and systems:
- If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
- If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
- If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
- If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.
And then he asks the question:
If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?
Cool, or what? Anxiety and tension flew from my psyche when I read this. It’s really another way of checking the steps you take to reach your goals, but he makes one more point that really hit home for me:
Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
I used to be a Weight Watchers leader. One thing that became abundently clear is that when a member set a goal of losing weight to attend and event (usually it was a reunion or a wedding), once that event was over they stopped losing weight.
Clear says the solution is to release the need for immediate results and focus instead on long-term.
I want to write stories readers want to read. While I have a small tribe waiting for my next book, I want a bigger tribe. That takes more well-written books (each better than the last) and more marketing. But it’s my daily system, my ongoing process, that’s key… and always will be.
Then I came across this (the “serendipitousness” continued):
This lovely gem arrived on my doorstep yesterday. It includes pages for writing and publishing goals in general, and specific goals related to words written, books written, books released, social media, newsletter, website, income, etc.
It doesn’t forget personal goals or even shopping lists. There are weekly plans and quarterly assessments, but beneath it all there’s the feeling that a system, a process, is key.
Here’s the link to James Clear’s article, Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.
And here’s the link to find out more about the Author Essentials 2017 Planner.
That brings me to something I’ve wanted to say for a long time. Our community of writers and readers is special. While we write or read alone, we gather in bookstores and libraries and blogs like this one. We lift each other up and we push each other forward.
Here’s to 2017. We’ve got this.
It’s all better with friends.