Last month I wrote a post about how I was re-evaluating the use of goals based on a book I was reading from Scott Adams. Adams said bluntly, “Goals are for losers, systems are for winners.” That resonated with me because his logic made sense. A goal is a wish, but a system is a process to break down the actions required to achieve that goal.
Over the last month, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about “goals” that I’ve set for myself this year and how I’ve fared with getting those outcomes. To be honest, it’s been a mixed bag for a bunch of reasons, but the truth is, many of those reasons are down to the fact that I relied on motivation and inspiration rather than perspiration and dedication.
That was a pretty manky rhyming sentence, but you get my point.
I didn’t succeed at some things because I needed to feel inspired to undertake something big rather than feeling determined about doing a series of smaller pieces of work that lead to a result. I needed to develop processes and systems.
And as I mentioned, when I have, these things have worked. I wanted to write and publish 300,000 words this year, I’m well up over 400,000 already because I had a system of writing my daily emails. That meant I’d write somewhere between 750 and 1500 words per day and so long as I stick to my daily routine of writing and sending those emails, there was no way I could not get my desired outcome.
What was interesting today was that I was listening to a book, “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holliday and he said something that I found myself nodding my head to because of my new way of thinking about goals and systems. He talked about setting goals and then building out the process to get you to your goals.
I spent this weekend in part creating systems and building out the automation sequences and tools to extract myself as much as possible from the process.
This enlightening I’ve been having over the past few months has come from reading and listening to more books. I read a book about DevOps and my mind became aware of how I’d become a constraint to my own business. I read the Scott Adams book recently and it changed my outlook on goals and processes. At the moment, I’m reading the Ryan Holliday book and my ideas about dealing with impediments has changed significantly – I now see more clearly how adversity gives you an opportunity to innovate.
None of these “breakthroughs” is earth-shattering. They are incremental improvements in how I think about things and more importantly, they are causing small, subtle changes in how I do things. I’m already seeing a compounding effect of these small changes adding up to a more significant benefit.
The common thread though is that these ideas have come from reading books. More specifically, listening to books on my iPhone. I’ve started buying the audio versions of books now from Audible wherever I can. I buy Kindle books regularly and I read them in bunches – I probably buy two or three books a month and then find myself devouring three books in a weekend, but not seriously reading again for maybe six weeks. With audiobooks, I listen to them every day when I’m on a bus or just sitting down eating a sandwich by myself.
Reading more books has helped my thinking over the past couple months, but I don’t have a system. I buy books because I have a goal of reading them. Goals are for losers, systems are for winners.
So I’m going to set up a system to read more books.
The first step today was to go back through all of the books I’ve purchased but haven’t read over the last year or so and work out if they have an Audible version. For the ones that did, I checked out the price to buy the Audible version because in some cases you get a significant discount by already owning the Kindle version. I picked up two or three new Audible books that way. The rest I added to my Wish List.
The next step will be to get an Audible monthly account so that I get the free credit every month plus an additional 30% off every other Audible book I buy. I’ve made the decision to stop buying Kindle books and buy the Audible version if I can – the point of buying the book is to read it, so getting the audio version increases my changes. I’m also setting up a calendar alert to remind myself to use my free Audible credit every month!
The final thing I’m going to do is start writing a weekly book review. I’m not sure if I’ll swap out one of my daily emails for a book review or just post it as additional content to the blog once a week. I’m thinking about some ideas to add even more value to my posts and daily emails for 2017, so this could be part of that process. The point of doing the weekly book review is that it will become a process and a habit and therefore it will get done.
Oddly, I posted about this idea in the Casual Marketer Academy group on Facebook (which is free for you to join) and within an hour, I had three people reach out to me and offer to send me their book to review. I went back and said thanks, but I’d prefer the audio version – crickets so far, but we’ll see what happens.
Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. The point of this post is to demonstrate that systems aren’t just about automation and outsourcing tasks to other people, they are about putting in place processes that incrementally help you achieve your desired outcomes. It can be anything, even something as simple as reading more books.
Sean’s Update, January 2018 – I kept up my reading habit through most of 2017. I listened to a lot of books last year on Audible. I did write a few book reviews but honestly, I didn’t enjoy the process at all – it ruined the books for me because I was constantly thinking of what I’d say in my review. Reading was selfishly a pursuit for myself and the reviews were damaging that. In 2018, I might create a “recommended reading” page on the site where I talk about some books I recommend people read.