Goals Vs Systems : A Counter Intuitive Way To Achieve What You Want

Have you ever tried setting a goal such as losing weight but failed miserably? I know, stupid question. We all have, proudly. Well the possible reason why you, me and the millions of others who have tried in the past is because of setting the goal of losing weight instead of focusing on these system of losing weight.

You see when you set a goal, you set your sights on just one objective. In order to achieve it, you go from A to B. If you don’t get to B, you failed, go home and cry to mommy. For example, lets say your goal is to lose 20 kilos in 5 months, so you enthusiastically sign up to the gym, will power your way to run on the treadmill, eat healthy and then all of a sudden, you see no results and you’re still a fat bastard.

Why does this happen? The reason is because goal achievement is rather limited. The only thing you see is the goal, not the steps in order to achieve it. When you’re focused on the goal, yes you may do a few things that are consistent with the achievement of that goal, however over time, you lose momentum and you’re off track.

There has to be a better way right?

Introducing Systems Thinking

When you think in terms of systems, you think of the process rather than the goal itself. According to the fitness experts, in order to lose weight, you need to exercise regularly such as 5-6 times per week, weight training, cardio and eating healthy keeping your calories below a certain number such as 2,000.

Therefore instead of thinking about, “I’m going to lose 20 kilos, so I’ll just go to the gym and eat healthy”, you focus on keeping up with the actions itself.

For example, what you do is you setup a score board on how many times you worked out for the week and your target which is 5 times per week. You also have a scoreboard for how many calories you’ve consumed for the day. You have a scoreboard on lifting weights 3-4 times per week incorporating leg day.

Therefore you have your system of keeping score.

The purpose of having a system and keeping score is that you focus solely on the score itself. At the end of the day, when you check things off your list and have hit your targets, eventually you’ll achieve your big goal without realising it.

Darren Hardy also talks about this in his Weekly Rhythm Register.

Personal Experience with Goals vs Systems

In my 20s, I dreamed about the future. I would sit down and write in my notepad or laptop the things I would want to achieve in future. I wanted to own a nice house by the river, I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to write books and do public speaking internationally. I had a ton of dreams.

Eventually, over the years, I actually attracted many opportunities my way which lead to the achievement of those goals. I do believe in the law of attraction however I don’t believe in doing nothing about the achievement of your goals. There were certain things I did that helped me achieve those big goals such as the actual process of writing pages into my book (which took me 3 years).

There was also submitting my interest to various public speaking organisations. I also saved a lot of money from my corporate job and eventually had enough cash one day to book a flight around the world.

I did a lot of little things along the way, however I was never consistent. I only worked on the book here and there. There were months of no writing and there was a few months where I would write something.

I would also submit my application to do public speaking once and never do it again.

It was only years later, somehow, luck came upon me and I managed to achieve those big things from the little actions I took earlier.

It was around in my early 30s, I came across a seminar by Darren Hardy who spoke about the compound effect. His way of thinking is that you focus on the little actions every single day which compounds over time to the achievement of your goals.

This really struck a chord with me because for a very long time, I had just been goal oriented but never focused on the consistent milestones I needed to achieve per day.

As a result of focusing on systems, I went from nearly no cash in the bank to earning over 6 figures, saving my house and paying off all my debts, all within a year. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but what I did was every single day, I did something that moved me closer to my goals. Yes I had my big goals in front of me but I was more concerned with the little actions I had to take every single day.

The little actions such as making the phone calls, saving the money, doing my 45 minute workout, looking for income streams, paying down my debts and clearing problems off the table.

Eventually, over time, I realised that I had cleared all my major problems, built up my bank account and earning over 6 figures simply by focusing on systems rather than my big goal itself.


The main lesson behind Goals vs Systems is that we can be trapped by primarily focusing on the goal itself without regard to the work in between. If you were to put a successful entrepreneur under a microscope, without burning him, you would see all the tiny little actions they took every single day that no one appreciates or rewards.

No one ever admires the person who says no to beer, says no to eating junk food while their friends eat it in front of them, doing the workouts every single day and writing their calories down on a notepad. That stuff is not sexy at all. However what is sexy is them walking down a beach with their abs.

It’s always been the process and the systems behind the goal, not the goal itself. The goal is simply a beacon while you need to navigate your ship to  ensure it reaches it’s destination through proper systems and consistent actions, day in, day out.

Stay Strong and Be Relentless.

Khoa Bui

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Author: Khoa Bui

Khoa Bui is an author, trainer and chief editor of YouBeRelentless. He enjoys reading books on self development, success, productivity, money, relationships and leadership. When he’s not writing, he likes to enjoy a glass of red wine with a fine cuban cigar while watching the entire season of Entourage. You can check out Khoa’s work at www.khoa-bui.com.

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