How to Set Systems Instead of Goals

productivity Jan 27, 2022

Have you ever thought, I set my goal…now what?


Last week I attended Back to School night for my daughter’s high school. It was all done via zoom because….COVID. It struck me how few parents showed up.


As the teacher presented to parents how the semester is going to play out, my thought was what a great illustration of how to use systems to achieve a goal. I know productivity nerd over here.


Let me explain using Biology (because the teacher was kinda cute).


He started by laying out the “course objectives” (aka goals)

  • Learn biology
  • Become a critical thinker and problem solver
  • The list went on but you get the point 


Next, he went into the materials, tests, homework, etc that will be expected throughout the year (his system for achieving the objectives above).  


I also loved the part where he pointed out all electronic devices must be OFF or they will be confiscated. This guy knew how to get teenagers to focus.


In other words, his goals set the direction for the class, but the systems are what drive progress towards the goal.  You’re not going to learn biology just by walking into the classroom.  You have to read the textbook, do the labs, and pass the tests.


Now you’re thinking, “Jen I’m not a biology teacher. What does this have to do with me?” Ok, let’s get into it.


Achieving Goals: Start Here


So if the goal sets the direction, and the strategy drives progress it makes sense you would have to choose a strategy related to each goal.  The next question is…what strategy do I choose?


My answer is it depends on your goal.  Let’s say you’re a social media strategist and your goal is to launch your website.  Where do you go to find strategy? Here are some places to start looking.

  • Hire a business coach (I went with B School)
  • Mastermind (hearing from other people can help you make small changes to move forward more productively)
  • Connect with others that are a few steps ahead of you
  • Consider what type of industry you are in and build a strategy for your environment (this article goes into detail)


A System to Measure


Regardless of your goal, you need a system to measure its success. Remember a good goal is SPECIFIC so it should be clear how you can measure.  The process is going to be different depending on if it’s an achievement or a habit goal



For habit goals, I recommend creating a habit tracker.  This can be an app on your phone, a habit calendar, or my personal favorite the habit tracker found in the full focus planner.


Achievement goals are a bit more challenging.  My current goal is to grow my email list to 500 subscribers by the end of March. So I have set up a weekly task to check the number of email subscribers.  


If you long for the simplicity of following a freshman class syllabus or you want to make 2022 the year you finally achieve that goal you’ve set for your business, dial in your systems. They are drivers of progress, the measurement of achievement, and definitely the reason you passed biology.


What system are you implementing to achieve your goals this year? 


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