Setting Goals or Focusing on Processes?

Setting Goals or Focusing on Processes?

IFinish Line´m a huge fan of goal setting. In my eyes we need to write down goals and do my best to stick to them. But recently I read an article on about “Forget Setting Goals

The author, James Clear, has a opposed view of goals. And even I´m still setting goals – he has some mindful thoughts.


What is wrong with setting goals?

First of all: Clear says there are goals and there are systems.


His examples are illustrating:

  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.

  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.

  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.

  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results?

Clear points out 3 statements about what goals cause:

1. Goals reduce your current happiness

We put pressure on ourselves and happiness or success don´t step in until the goal is achieved. His solution: Commit to a process, not a goal

2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term process

Once a goal is achieved, motivation to get further could be gone. Clear´s solution: Release the need of immediate results.

3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over

We try to predict the future every time we set a goal. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way. Clear´s Solution: Build feedback loops.

For me, this article was not shocking because my goals include process like “I´m doing the Golden Hour at least 5 days a week” or “I do sports at least 2 times a week” and so on. My list of goals includes situations I want to achieve and processes.
For those who don´t have processes in the goal list – think about it! Even though I set processes already I know now why this has so much power. (For those who don´t write down goals at all – start with it! It´s worth it)

For those (including me) who don´t want to cross off all goals and switch to processes completely – think about Clear´s theory. Tune your list. That´s what I´m doing, because I experienced exactly what Clear is talking about.

“Goals reduce your current happiness” is of course discussible, so is his second thesis. But especially his last thesis about “you can´t predict the future” has it´s right to be minded. When we set a special goal for the next year, we believe our circumstances won´t be changing – or they will be changing as we predict them. In this predicted scenario we want (to do everything) to achieve this goal. One single unexpected change can blow this goal away. We might say “We can just use another way to still achieve this goal” but this maybe wouldn´t make sense anymore. Maybe we should prefer another goal after the changed circumstances and situation. As young entrepreneur I´m into this game of “unexpected changes” – so I´ve taken Clear´s thesis and advices and refined some of my goals, focusing on processes instead of some goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>