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Why Set Systems and Not Goals

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Have you ever experienced being unhappy after achieving your goals? Forget about goals and set systems instead.

Achieving goals changes your life for a short span of your life but the system you implement in obtaining your desired outcomes will truly last.

Today, I will be sharing to you a chapter of the book Atomic Habits:An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear that emphasized why people should learn to set systems and not goals.

Difference between systems and goals

According to Scott Adams, cartoonist of Dilbert comic, goals are the outcomes while systems are the processes that lead to the possible results.

Your goal is attaining high grades while your system is studying every night. If you’re aiming to become an entrepreneur, your system should identify new ideas, acquire capital, and develop marketing skills.

But if you will focus on systems and not on your goals, is it possible to be successful? Of course, yes.

Goals are created to set your mind to which direction to take but systems enable you to make progress. That’s why if you have a lot of goals in mind but you are not capable of obtaining systems, all of your goals will remain underachieve.

Example, if your goal is to clean your room now but you’re the type of person that could not maintain the room daily, you will end up hoping for another motivation to come that will push you to clean your room again.

This situation highlighted that you always treat the symptoms and not the cause of the problem.

But if you have the right habit to return the things where they are placed originally after using, you will not end up suffering with a messy room.

Why goals won’t make you happy?

Goals are being set to make us happy. But a happiness in a short while. James Clear experienced falling into a trap wherein happiness was always set for his future self to enjoy.

But if you develop a system-fist mentality, you don’t have to wait for tomorrow to be satisfied and happy. If you fall in love with the process than the outcome, you can always be satisfied and happy as long as your system is running.

It is important to reflect on what will you do after achieving your goals? Some people revert on their old habits after acquiring their desired outcomes.

Keep in mind that “true long-term thinking is goal-less thinking”. Your planned cycle will lead to continuous improvement.

Developing your own system will help you obtain best results that you have never imagine.

“Your commitment to process will determine your progress,” James Clear emphasized.


  1. Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits. New York : Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
    2. https://lifehacker.com/get-more-done-by-focusing-on-systems-instead-of-goals-1786245764
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