Saying that I have a goal for 2018 is a little bit of a lie.
I actually don’t have a goal.
You see after using goal setting to help motivate myself to make positive changes on so many occasions, I’ve been left unsatisfied by goal setting's effectiveness.
Often goal setting doesn’t actually motivate me so much as it helps me set a line in the sand that seems to easily wash away.
Goal setting doesn’t seem to create the lasting changes I’m looking for.
Maybe that's because when we use goals to define success, any point short of reaching our goals feels like failure.
But not only does not reaching our goals feel like failure, but also measuring our progress can feel like failure as well since we're still measuring ourselves as short of our goal.
Goal setting puts us in a strange position where we punish ourselves for making progress more than we actually reward ourselves.
Maybe that's why when we use goal setting techniques so much of our willpower seems to be drained not by performing the activities we're trying to accomplish, but by holding ourselves accountable to our own goal setting standards instead.
We should be using our willpower to accomplish our goals and make progress, not conform to a system that seems to be self-defeating. We instinctively know goal setting isn't sustainable.
So why do people use goal setting in the first place?
See the funny thing about goals is that they are pervasive.
We’ve been using goals to measure our success for so long that we forget to even ask how well goal setting works for us or even if there's a better accessible alternative.
Instead of viewing progress from a negative perspective, let’s view it how it is: progress.
The direction we move in life is more important than where we are.
Instead of setting goals, my new approach to improving myself is using systems.
To improve myself now, I try to orient myself towards positive changes by thinking about how I can make those changes easier.
So how can we go about creating systems that improve our lives in the direction we want?
We can start by thinking about what we want.
We can think about what we don’t want.
We can think about what we don’t know.
If we define what we want, what we don't want, and what we don’t know, we can use these three criteria to create systems that help us make better choices and improve our lives.