If Not Goals, Then…What?

Last time when I wrote about stressing the creation of systems over the setting of goals. Why? Well, for the long answer read the link. Short answer, with a system you may not achieve your goal, but you’ll achieve something. With a goal, if you’ve missed it, you’ve missed it.

Anyhoo, while I still have goals, things I want to achieve, I’m far more concerned with creating systems that will push me along the path in that general direction than I am with the actual goals themselves.

Okay, Andrew, but what does that mean in real, concrete terms?

Well, let’s look at the history of this little blog. When I started up, I had set a goal that I would create a little internet based business to supplement the family income. If you go through my posting history you can see pretty much the exact moment that goal fell through; the moment posting stopped for months.

I had set a time on my goal, failed to achieve it, and damned near dropped the whole thing. Sometime around then I encountered Scott Adams’ “goals are for suckers, winners have systems” thinking. This changed my entire approach. I still have the ultimate goal of creating a business out of my non-career interests, but it’s non-specific. It doesn’t have to be, “In this field, by this date, making this much money.”

You see, along the way I’ve discovered the skill set I have, while very good for what I do as a day job, is basically useless for internet marketing. Which means I have an absolute crap ton of stuff to learn. Which means if I have a goal that requires skill sets I don’t have, well, I’m doomed to fail.

Say, didn’t I write something about setting yourself up for success, not for failure? Why yes, just a couple of days ago. That was in the context of New Year’s Resolutions and the how most of them are doomed to failure but it applies to any big change. In any big change there are many pieces, and it is impossible to know what all of them are.

This creates an often insurmountable challenge. We don’t know everything; we don’t even know all of what we need to know, and the barrier to entry is too high. So, make it easier, lower the barriers.

I wrote that specifically about lowering the barriers to exercise, but don’t you think the principle holds true for anything? And specifically to the topic of New Years’ Resolutions? If we make them too big, if we make any goal too big, the barriers are too high and we are doomed to fail.

  • Don’t set yourself up for failure by
  • Lowering the barriers.

Let’s loop back. I learned I simply haven’t the correct knowledge base/skillset at this time. That last is key. I don’t have it, but I figure if I can slog through degrees in engineering and physics, I can at least learn what I need to learn. Then I can learn it.

Last year, I determined to learn how to come up with an idea and turn it into a blog post. And to be able to do it consistently and rapidly. You can also see that in my posting history. Longish periods of time with daily posts. Posts that got progressively longer, with more detail, while taking less time to ideate and write.

I also moved off my original concept of what I was going to do and followed my ideas out of the pure realm of posture and into a more complete concept of health and wellness (while still maintaining posture at the core).

So what’s next? What about this year.

Well, during my physics degree, I also took a minor in philosophy. Writing wasn’t so much an issue as writing for the specific audience I’m attempting to reach (which is not exclusively philosophy professors). Learning to write the longer essays on this or that wasn’t too hard so this year I’m going to try to branch into shorter pieces. Quick hits, as it were, with my first attempts  here and here.

What system am I implementing? I’m starting with a little notebook to jot down quick hit ideas as they occur, and each day giving myself a limited time window to write them. By giving myself an artificial time constraint, I’m forcing myself to learn to write shorter, faster, clearer. Will it work? I dunno, but I’ve a system to try.

In addition, it will give me a little more data on what works for the reader, and what I like to write, and how. So the system gives me multiple good outcomes (ways to win) and with no specific goal, no real way to fail.

Beyond that, I’m studying the great Ray Edwards, with an eye toward filling in one of the gaps in my marketing knowledge; copywriting. Does any or all of this mean I’ll have that business come December 31? Doubtful. But I’ll have learned some stuff, added to my skill stack, and had some fun along the way. Once again, multiple good outcomes and no way to fail.

This is going to be a fun year. I hope y’alls will come along with me.