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Building Systems Rather than Goals: How to Guide

Often, we are influenced by our family, friends, and peers that the best, most actionable way to achieve something is by setting a goal. I approached goal setting in a similar way.

I would look at each of my habits and set specific goals for myself. Many of these goals were to get a certain grade in a class, lift a certain amount of weight at the gym and so on.

As I set these goals for myself, I realized once I didn't hit them that something was missing. While I had outlined a specific goal for myself, I hadn't outlined a plan to achieve it.

This is what is called your system. Without taking the time to design a system on how to achieve your goals, you may fall short of achieving the goal you've set out for yourself.

So if you just focused on setting systems rather than goals, would you still succeed? You most definitely will and here’s why.

The Difference Between Goals and Systems

Goals will give you the big picture and push you in the direction you would like to go. Systems, on the other hand ensure that you actually get there. Goals are important for setting your direction, but systems are best for making progress.

If you are looking for better results, focus on your systems instead. Because while it is rewarding to finally achieve that goal you have had in mind, it's also only a momentary change. Therefore, to see long-lasting change, building systems for your habits is essential.

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How to Create Your Own System

Current State Vs. Desired State

The first step in creating a system is to look at the gap between your current state and your desired state. Once you identify what this gap is, ask yourself why this gap exists.

Let’s use the example of wanting a healthier lifestyle. A potential gap may be that you are feeling unmotivated lately and think making a significant change in your lifestyle would help with that.

You are not living the healthiest lifestyle right now as you could be, and you want to make a change.

Steps To Achievement

Now that you have identified your gap and why it exists, the next step is to identify what you will do about it. What is your system to achieve this? With the goal of living a healthier lifestyle in mind, begin exercising a few times a week for X amount of time.

Choose which days you will dedicate to exercising and what you will do. Will you go to the gym for 30 minutes a few times a week? Will you start out taking a walk or two a week in your neighborhood? The choice is yours.

Decide if a healthier lifestyle is a priority to you and if it is, choose how you will invest your time and what amount of effort you will put in to begin this.


Once you have defined the steps to setting your systems, now it’s time to make the magic happen! This is the exciting part where you begin to put your plan into action.

If you are committed to going for a walk twice a week in order to achieve your goal of living a healthier lifestyle, then now is the time to do that. It all comes down to commitment.

"Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress"- James Clear. Therefore, setting systems will help you get to where you want to be. Goals are a great way to envision what you hope for yourself, but without the use of systems you won’t make progress. I highly recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear if you are interesting in learning even more about building habits at

When executing your system, I highly recommend finding an accountability buddy. People who can hold you accountable to your systems will help ensure that you follow through with what you say and not only talk about it.

In fact, the likelihood of allowing these new habits to stick increases significantly when you have that one person ( or group) to report back to.

Adjust and Refine the Process

So now you’ve implemented your system. At this point, you’ll want to evaluate your current system. Are you seeing the results you had hoped for?

Perhaps you have seen new results you haven’t even thought of? Often, people will begin with a certain system in place, and then their results will be even better than they had imagined, outperforming the goal they had envisioned.

Take some time to sit down and think of a strategy for adding to your current system or adjusting if things are not working out exactly to plan. Be sure to choose habits that suit you and your own needs.

What you do everyday determines the quality of life you are going to live. It’s as simple as that. Building systems is so important in ensuring you live a life worth living according to you. What determines my outcome in life? While it may seem like passion determines your outcome in life, it actually comes down to principle. Passion can make you feel motivated, but principle is what will keep you going in the long run.

If you want to make changes, you need to make decisions every hour of every day that will benefit you. Overtime, you will begin to notice how these micro decisions affect your daily life. Visit to learn 4 of the best healthy habits you can add in your daily routine today.

What systems have you set for yourself? I would love to know in the comment section below. Let’s start a conversation!

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