Processes Vs. Goals (or, Systems vs. Accomplishments)

In this excellent article on systems vs. goals, James argues that even if you did not pursue any specific goals, with the right system, you will still go a long way. This idea has been floating around my head for over a year, now, and I think it's slowly coalescing into something useful.

Ten Lessons About Systems

  1. Systems are awfully close to habits.
  2. If you can modify, create, and eliminate habits, you can build any sort of system you'd like. (Start this process here:
  3. Reading about things is completely different than doing things. They don't even belong on the same continuum.
  4. Reading about things is still a great way to learn and shape your character.
  5. A goal of "habit change" fails to meet the criteria for setting a good goal.
  6. Failure is not absolute. Extract the useful, discard the rest.
  7. Create, don't just consume. This will sharpen you in many ways.
  8. Personal observation: I am most defensive when others do not carefully consider my points of view. I've grown to see this better in recent months. Don't know what to do with it, but I'm happy to have noticed!
  9. A good system, even without a goal, is powerful.
  10. Create a space where the desired habit/system is the easy route, and you'll be successful. Struggling to build a habit = failure.

I struggle with systems. I am writing this blog post as an excuse to avoid working on a project. Ironic, yes?

Rather than beating myself over the head for failing to work on a goal that I want to work on, I'm stepping back. What makes this project so distasteful to me? I pursued on my own accord, and still want to go through with it. I think I'm fearful of the undefined, which this thing is. I don't know an obvious next step. Which means the next step is obvious:

Determine the next step. Or the next five steps. Then break each one down into little tiny goals. I've been using Trello for this, and it's been helpful.