General Badassery Episode 30

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So today I'm talking about systems and goals.

I'm a systems guy, so that's where I lean anyway. But there are a lot of people talking about goals, so let's kind of harp on why goals are honestly kind of stupid.

The common expression, as I've used in the podcast earlier, is "a goal is a dream with a date on it."

With no plan for how to get from where you are to that goal, however, the goal is still pretty worthless.

The big issues with goals come down to how they're focused on nouns instead of verbs. They're about having and getting things.

Systems are about action. They're about doing. And I generally find it preferable to do things than to have things - honestly, if I have something, it's because there's something I can do with it.

I don't really need to have a thing just to have it. Anything with no value beyond its existence seems worthless to me. And that's a value judgment, not like an immutable law of the universe, so maybe you don't agree... and that's fine.

But I still value systems over goals. Primarily because while goals can only be repeated, systems can be modified.

Your goal to have a Hawaiian vacation, once accomplished, has very little application beyond having another Hawaiian vacation because you've been there and done that.

But a system for planning and taking Hawaiian vacations can be repurposed into planning and taking... Australian vacations. Or African vacations.

Any vacation at all, really, you just have to change the destination and add in a little complexity for international travel.

A system can be optimised. A system can be simplifed. (I cover those in the newsletter this week.) A system can be repeated and tested and improved.

A goal is just like, a thing. You might get a system to fall out of a goal, if you pay attention to how it worked and how you got there. But when you try to apply that system again, how much of it is really repeatable?

You didn't construct it with the aim of being able to repeat it. You just wrote down what produced a Hawaiian vacation the first time. You may not be able to do the same things.

Designing a system with the aim of repeating it, in my book, makes a whole hell of a lot more sense than just setting a goal and chasing after it. Even if you set and reach deadlines.

Of course, your mileage may vary on this front.