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SYSTEM OVER GOALS - Key thoughts from James Clear's international bestseller "Atomic Habits"

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.” — James Clear

Problem 1: Winners and losers have the same goals.

“If successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers.” — James Clear


Problem 2: Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.

“Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement… the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results… Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.” — James Clear

If your desired outcomes do not match your lifestyle, you will always be fighting an uphill battle.

Adjust your lifestyle so that success comes naturally.

Misalignment puts you in conflict with your progress.

Problem 3: Goals restrict your happiness.

“The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.”… When you fall in love with the process rather than the product… You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.” — James Clear

Goals make satisfaction a momentary reward. Systems make it fundamental.

Problem 4: Goals are at odds with long-term progress.

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game… Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.” — James Clear

People frequently regress after achieving their goals because further advancement is not incentivized.


“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress… Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.” — James Clear

Motivation fizzles out, and its presence alone doesn’t guarantee success. However, focus on systems and “the score takes care of itself”.

Establishing new practices requires you to rewire your existing behaviours. Do this by leveraging contracts, habit-tracking and habit-stacking. Read Atomic Habits for a more thorough breakdown on how to implement these new systems. The principles are lifechanging!

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