Those of you who read my newsletter each week (which is ALL of you, I’m sure) will recognize the names James Clear as appearing often in the quotes section. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I set my daily reminder to read I was using one of the tools for habit building and behavior change James covers in his book, Atomic Habits, my first read of the year.
Most of us realize the importance of setting goals for ourselves. Goals keep us motivated and keep us moving forward. But as James covers in his book, goals by themselves are not useful. What makes us successful is the systems we have in place to help us reach our goals.
Think about it…at the start of each season, every football team has the same goal: to win the championship. What separates the winners each year from everyone else? Their systems. As James says in the book:
“Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers. It wasn’t the goal of winning the Tour de France that propelled the British Cyclists to the top of the sport. Presumably, they had wanted to win the race every year before—just like every other professional team. The goal had always been there. It was only when they implemented a system of continuous small improvements that they achieved a different outcome.”
Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. Atomic Habits is a collection of very practical advice and tips you can use to start building good new habits and breaking old ones, and I highly recommend it.