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The Lever #047 - Goals Are For Losers

Great achievements are a result of knowing what you want then moving in that direction.

But a goal-based approach is NOT the best way to do this.


But first:

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Goals are for losers.

Wait, what?

If you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals.

The trouble with goals is that once you reach it you often stop doing the thing that helped you get there in the first place. This makes it a "reach it and done" objective.

Have you ever set a goal to lose 10lbs before going on vacation? You do the work, reach the goal, and head to the beach. But when you get home that 10lbs comes home with you.

A system on the other hand is something that you do on a regular basis, with a general expectation of improvement. It is a process of continual improvement.

It's something you can maintain at all times - even on vacation.

Goal = Lose 20lbs
System = Eat right

The system can get you to the goal, but having a goal will not create the system you need to succeed.

That doesn't mean goals don't have value.

The Best Use of Goals

Goals are best for games and simple tasks. Straightforward objectives.

The worst use of goals? Lifelong pursuits such as health and wealth.

By narrowly pursuing a singular goal, such as chasing a new title in your company you may be missing out on five way better opportunities elsewhere. But your goal creates blinders.

Systems Focus

Focus instead on systems.

These are skill based. This lets you transfer skills those skills between projects.

So even if the project fails you build a stronger skillset to take you into the future.

Approach each opportunity with the question:

How likely is this going to improve my odds of future success?

You might not get the job you wanted but the learned skills may help you get the job you didn't even know existed. (AI Strategist anyone?)

Systems Lead to Success

Success = Luck x Skills

(h/t @dennisgeelen)

Because systems are open ended you increase your surface area for luck.

The luckier you are the more successful you'll be.

And the Smarter you work the luckier you'll get.


The systems over goals approach helped Scott transfer the skills he learned in banking, entrepreneurship, and corporate America into the wildly successful Dilbert comic strip.


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