If you want to succeed in life or in business, the secret may not be in goal setting like we’ve heard over and over again by expert after expert.
We’re told to set goals for the grades we want to achieve, for our success in the gym, for the career we want, or the success we want to achieve as a business owner. It’s drummed into us. Just Google “goal setting and success” and see what you get. Last time I checked there were 603,000,000 results.
I am a huge fan of Zig Ziglar. I must have listened to his goal-setting CD a hundred times. I can still hear him saying, in that southern twang of his, “you’ve got to have those goals.” But what if you didn’t?
I was out running one day and listening to an audiobook as I often do on longer runs. The book was Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’m running along listening to James read his book, telling some great stories, when he said something that made me stop in my tracks.
Speaking of his own achievements and failures he said “I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goal I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed.”
It’s such a simple, seemingly innocuous statement, but it really struck me. I began to think of my own attempts at goal setting. I was running at the time, so that’s where my mind started.
Every year I set goals to run certain races and improve my times to certain levels. Without fail, I always set a goal to beat or match my personal best. I don’t always achieve those goals, though. As I thought about it, I realized that the times I achieve those goals are when I have a solid training plan – a system – that I follow religiously.
The years I don’t follow my system, or I try a new one that isn’t quite as good are the years I fail to achieve my goals. But if I didn’t have a goal, if I just grabbed a really good training plan and followed it, I’d still be very likely to see improvement.
The goal matters less than the system.
There is a famous quote from the Greek philosopher Archilochus that you’ll probably recognize; “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
Swap out expectations for goals and training for systems and you have the reason many businesses fail to live up to their potential.
Most business owners set goals. Maybe it’s as formal as two months of team meetings and lots of whiteboarding or it could be you writing some ideas in a notepad as you sit in front of your computer late one night.
Some will achieve some of their goals, many will not. Those who failed didn’t likely fail because the goal was bad, but because they had no reliable system to consistently move them in the right direction.
Here’s another point I borrowed from Clear’s book: winners and losers have the same goals.
Let that sink in. If the winners and losers set the same goals, then why isn’t everyone a winner?
That’s not to say goals are useless. Goals are what set our direction, call them our compass. But your compass won’t get you across the Atlantic. For that, you need a ship, a crew, resources, supplies. A system.
The same is true of your marketing. If all you have are goals like, more website visitors, more likes, more online sales, increased revenue, lower churn, whatever your goals may be, but no underlying system to set the path and track your results, you are in trouble.
The Duct Tape Marketing System that we employ is just that, a system. We’ll help you create your strategy and set those goals. But, more importantly, we’ll build you a system with the right components to get you there.
It starts by ensuring you have all the right foundational pieces in place to maximize future growth and then we pull elements based on your goals that logically lead in a forward direction, building on each other until momentum takes off.
Want to check out what the gaps are in your current systems? Try our free Marketing Checkup and see how you fair.
That’s it for me for now. I have to go lace up the shoes and get out for another run. My system told me so.