Last October, Above Average uploaded a video titled ‘First Person To Run A Marathon Without Talking About It’, in which a guy says: “The whole point of running a marathon is to tell people you’re going to run a marathon. Otherwise, who’s going for a long run?”
It’s a parody on today’s society, about the goals we set and the way we use social media. Yet, the deeper meaning of the video is about what drives us.
I don’t believe goals do.
Goals are good to have, but not a means to get there.
In his book, ‘Hey Whipple, Squeeze This’, Luke Sullivan writes to advertising students that it’s pretty lame if you’re in the business for winning awards, since even the most successful creatives spend only 0.00002% of their time collecting awards. If that’s what drives you, you’re going to be discouraged very soon. ‘Let the fun be in the chase’, Luke adds.
Charles Bukowski wrote a similar thing in ‘So you want to be a writer?’, by saying ‘If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it’.
Derek Sivers sheds another light on this, in his three-minute TED talk, ‘Keep your goals to yourself’, by explaining that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen, since you’re already taking an advance on its gratification.
Set goals and bragging rights aside, and develop a system for yourself in which you become your best you.
If your goal is running a marathon, your system could be a diet or a training regime. If your goal is writing a book, your system is about scheduling time for writing and a structure of building your story.
Unlike goals, systems aren’t about ‘having been’ or ‘will become’. They’re about what you can maintain, what you can do right now, not at the end of the year.
Additionally, while you need to discipline yourself to reach goals, systems are kept alive by intrinsic motivation: If you’re not doing it for the sake of doing it, you’ll never write that book, start your own company, or run that marathon.
It’s worth mentioning that while goals are good for planning progress, a state of being actually helps you make that progress.
Happy new year.