In business, there is too much fixation on big goals and dramatic results. "Get 1 million followers! "Build a 6-figure business!"
When you constantly focus on a big future goal, 2 things happen:
1. Your subconscious keeps whispering to you daily that you aren't there... that you aren't yet "enough".
Desire is a contract we make with ourselves, to be unhappy until something specific happens. The fixation on a big goal creates an underlying layer of unhappiness with life.
2. The more you focus on the specifics of the goal, the more attached you become.
If that goal doesn't happen in the exact way you visualized, or in the timeline you hoped, it deals a blow to your self-identity and erodes your sense of empowerment.
A healthier, less stressful way is to focus on our systems, our processes, rather than our goals.
Ironically, you might find it more effective in reaching your goals too.
I'm not saying to get rid of your future goals. I, too, have a vision of my future life, and specific milestones I am interested in achieving.
However, I hold loosely to those future goals, numbers, or milestones. I think of them as possibilities and potentials, rather than what my "success" means.
I use those future milestones to help me thoughtfully design a daily system that gets me ever closer to that goal, that makes those possibilities into probabilities.
None of us can accurately predict what will happen in the future (other than that the sun will probably rise tomorrow!)
When it comes to whether I will achieve my milestones, I know that there are just too many uncontrollable factors in life, society, technology, nature's occurrences, unforeseen personal circumstances, sudden revelations that may motivate me to change directions, etc.
So let's be careful not to get fixated on a specific future goal that we made up.
Instead, let's create a system for our actions that makes the goal more likely.
Goal = Lose 10 pounds.
System = Jog for 15 minutes a day.
Goal = Write a book.
System = Write 1 page a day.
Goal = Get 10 more clients in 90 days.
System = Contact 10 people a week.
Goal = Have $3,000 in passive income
System = Create 1 new online course every 60 days.
For your own system, you might want to specify the small, doable steps, to prevent procrastination.
By starting to apply your system regularly, you will also find additional clarity on how to make the system more effective for you.
As soon as we create the system, the process of daily or weekly actions, then I suggest we raise our inner reason for following that system toward a higher purpose: to grow our skills and capacity.
Truly, the only "goal" that matters is your personal growth. As long as you are growing in your abilities and character, life becomes progressively more joyful and meaningful.
Any goal becomes more achievable, if you focus on growing yourself.
Interestingly, when we focus on our systems, we become more likely to experience better results, more empowered to reach our goals.
Here's a wonderful little story from the book The Practicing Mind:
"I once read an interview with a coach for the U.S. Olympic archery team. He commented that the biggest problem he faced in coaching the American team was that they were fixated on their scores, or the result of their shots.
It was as if they were drawing the bow and releasing the arrow only to hit the bull’s-eye and earn a good score.
This was in contrast to the Asian teams, who, having grown up in different cultures, were consumed in the process of properly executing the technique that led up to releasing the shot. Where the arrow hit the target was almost unimportant compared to the motion of drawing the bow correctly and releasing the shot. They viewed the result with an almost detached indifference. For them, the desired goal was a natural result of prioritizing the proper technique of drawing the bow. They operated in a completely different paradigm, and because of it, they were very difficult to beat.... The minds of the Asian archers were quiet, uncomplicated, and free from mental turmoil.
The irony was that, when compared to the results-oriented Americans, the Asians were the ones who were winning. Now, U.S. sports psychologists are teaching our athletes to think along similar lines.”
I'll end with this encouragement:
Remember that you will be deeply taken care of.
Everything will eventually turn out beautifully for you. Truly.
Therefore, do not be afraid if you do not reach goals.
Focus on your systems and processes instead.
Use those systems to grow yourself everyday.
By doing this, the journey of life becomes more joyful, and you may even travel beyond your original goals.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.