Areas of Focus and Developing Systems versus Setting Goals

Issac Smith on Unsplash

It is that time of year when we are deluged with articles about the importance of goal setting for the New Year. I was once a big proponent of setting goals, but my thinking has evolved in this area being influenced by the thinking of some very wise people. My personal experience has also confirmed that thinking, at least in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I do find that setting goals properly is helpful, but they are not what is most important in my opinion. Focusing on the areas where you want / need to grow in order to become the person you want to be is what is most important to me.

Think about this – goals tend to be shorter-term and most often directed towards the attainment of a singular end (i.e. lose 50 ponds by June 2020). In fact, an improperly set goal can often lead to unintended consequences. I have also found that most goal-setting takes place with the mind-set (both at the individual and corporate levels) that the future will be stable and that we have more control over events than we actually do in reality. Things change and often change rapidly and unexpectedly!

Things happen – we encounter a significant and unexpected health issue so that cool workout plan is no longer feasible, there is a tragedy in the family, the unexpected loss of a job, an unplanned relocation, and so on. My own sister, who owns and runs a business with her husband, saw the loss of their first grandchild, lost their house and all of their vehicles, plus damage to their business in a 1,000-year flood, and then lost three of their four parents. All of this occurred in a three-year span. This was not all that they walked through in that time either! So, what do you do with your very specific goals when life intrudes upon your plans like what happened to my sister?

Also, there are seasons to our lives, and what is important in one season will probably not be what is important in this next season.

So, what if you instead focus on the areas of your life where you want and/or need to grow? What if you put in place systems in your life that move you towards living a more fulfilling life and you becoming the person you really desire to be?

Instead of a goal of losing 50 pounds by June (which is a pretty good example of an arbitrary goal that may only produce short-term results), you instead focus on what it means to live a healthy life in a truly sustainable manner? What does it look like for exercise to become a part of your life as well as simply eating correctly? I mentioned seasons earlier, the focus on developing in an area versus confining goals allows you to flex as to what is best for growth in that area for the season of your life.

Once you decide on which areas of your life where you want to focus, then think about the systems or processes that you need to put into place that result in that growth. Usually these are the small daily things that result in incremental change that finally results in a life well-lived

Think about areas of focus for your life and the systems (daily things you do) that will result in real life-change and in you becoming the person you want to be instead of just setting potentially myopic goals.