This post is all about the idea that Goals Don’t Work. It’s more personal than most of my content because it’s an example of me working in public.
I am feeling pretty good that this is the year we finally beat covid-19, though I think it’s gonna take more of the year than we think it is.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes until Q4 to go back to a sense of “normal”, but I pray that I’m wrong and it happens even faster.
Let me know how things are going in your part of the world. I read every response I get and almost always write back. 🙂
Goals Don’t Work
With it being a new year, I wanted to take this time to discuss the idea of goals with you. I won’t go hardcore into it, but this idea is something I am working on for a book.
It’s not completely fleshed out yet, so I am “building in public” as they say. As always, would appreciate your feedback.
As business owners, we are always setting goals, right? We have quarterly goals, yearly goals, and of course personal goals for ourselves too.
The issue I’ve seen with goals is that they just don’t work.
In fact, according to Forbes, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. That means 20% succeed, which is actually better than I was expecting.
But here’s the question… why are we ok with an 80% failure rate? Would we go see a heart surgeon where 80% of his patients died on the table?
Of course not.
Yet with goals (same concept with weight loss too) there’s the human element. Whenever the human element is involved, we have an easy out. We can just blame the person for failing instead of looking at the system as a whole.
You see, systems either work of they don’t work. You can’t really blame people for system failure unless they designed a flawed system.
Scott Adams, the guy who created the Dilbert comic strip, is famous for saying, “Systems, not Goals”.
Meaning, if you want to accomplish something, create a system around it. A process. Something that you follow every time.
Easy example – you want to stop eating cookies.
You make a goal to “stop eating cookies”.
The next day, you see a cookie on the counter and you mindlessly eat it.
But here’s the reality.
Setup A System For Your Goal
Instead of having a goal to not eat cookies, why not setup a system t hat makes it next to impossible to eat a cookie.
The system could be as simple as this:
1) Throw away (or give to a food bank) all the cookies in your house.
2) Never buy cookies when you buy groceries.
3) If someone brings cookies in the house, tell them they must remain in their room.
4) Avoid temptation by staying away from stores that sell cookies.
The key to this whole thing is that you now have a system. And the system doesn’t force you to use willpower to not eat cookies.
In fact, it does the opposite.
You realize you aren’t strong enough so you create systems to help you avoid the problem altogether.
It’s much easier this way.
Applying “Goals Don’t Work” To Business
This is all good for cookies, but what about business? How can we create better systems and get away from goals?
Well, first you have to realize that goals are really nothing more than a headline. If you view goals as the STARTING point and not the ending point you are well on your way.
The goal is just your final destination. It’s like punching in the address to your GPS. That’s it.
It doesn’t tell you how to get there, it’s just step 1.
So, your business the idea is this. Turn your goals into Projects. I know this sounds simple and hopefully you are already doing this in some way.
But if you set a Q2 goal to increase sales, you need to really flesh that out.
Increase sales how? And by how much? And how will you measure it?
Then, create the project. Assign roles. Plan out contingencies. Ask who is responsible for what.
Projects > Goals.
The success rate of a project is much greater than that of a goal. Plus, even if a project fails you’ll know exactly why it failed and when it happened.
You can regroup and try again.
I urge you to turn all your goals (even personal ones) into projects. This has been the key to the successes of my life.
I’ll have lots more to say on this as I continue to flesh it out, but this is my first time writing about it.
Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!