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😡 Goals are for losers. Winners use systems.

Stop setting goals. Start winning with systems.

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Happy new month! We’re now 33% through 2023 😬

If this makes you feel stressed, you’re not alone. I still feel like I haven’t been meeting the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

Here’s how you can get back on track.

Note: this article is republished from the Level Up archives.

Last year I read a book called How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams.

The most profound takeaway was this quote:

Goals are for losers. Winners use systems.

Scott Adams

I used this quote to turn all of my goals into systems, and it completely changed the way I work and chase down my goals.

I love goals. Are you calling me a loser?

Yep. My CEO uses goals and I called him a loser to his face.

You might be clenching your fist at me right now.

Especially if you have set goals that you are proud to have achieved.

And you should be proud of accomplishing your goals.

Things like graduating University, saving up money, or learning a language are all huge accomplishments.

But, what comes after you achieve that goal?

Another goal.

After your finish your Bachelors Degree, you will want to do a Masters Degree or land a high-paying job.


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The goal hamster-wheel 🎡

And I found myself in the same place.

Every year, quarter and month, I would set goals in my professional and personal life.

When I hit them, I feel a (momentary) sense of achievement and relief.

When I missed them, I feel a sense of dread that carried onto the next month.


Because when you set a goal, you are perpetually chasing an outcome. Chasing an outcome leaves you in 'a failure state' until you reach that outcome.

And once you reach the goal, you set another one.

Basically, all of your time is spent chasing an outcome.

So, how do I win with a system?

We convert our goals into systems.

A system is a repeatable mode of operating, independent of the outcome.

Systems don't care about the end state, they just require consistent inputs.

Success within a system is just showing up.

Example: I want to be a great writer

Goal: Write 20 articles this year

System: Write for 30 minutes daily

If you follow the system, over time your output will increase and you will produce good work.

If you chase the goal, you're in 'failure state' until you hit 20 articles.

Which of these ways of working are better for long-term success? 🤔

Personally, I’d rather not feel like a failure until I finish writing 20 articles. And I bet you wouldn't either. So..

How to change your goals into systems

Here is how you can change all your goals into systems.

  1. Start with your goal or end state

  2. Working backwards, ask - what does it take to get there?

  3. Translate this into an action you take daily or weekly.

Let's use the goal of finding a job as an example:

Goal: I want to get my first job as a Product Manager

What it takes to get there: Learning about how to be a Product Manager, and applying for jobs consistently

Weekly Action: Apply for three jobs a week, and spend an hour learning about Product management each day.

And there you have your system.

You know that the system will eventually get you to your goal, as long as you follow it consistently.

So, as long as you show up each day you can be happy with your progress.

And when you follow the system consistently, you’d be surprised how quickly you end up hitting your end goal.

What's a goal that you can turn into a system?

Tweet us your answer: https://twitter.com/EntryLevelNet

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