Goals are Good, but Systems are Better. Here’s Why.

Everyone has heard of setting goals, especially for the New Year, but have you heard of using systems? Systems help break a goal down from a huge idea into smaller steps.

Don’t get me wrong—setting goals is a good thing to do, but how many times have you set a goal, even one you were super excited about, only to find that you’ve made almost no progress a few months down the line? The goal is your endgame. To really own any goal, you need a process to define exactly how you are going to get to that endgame and what you can do to optimize your progress along the way.

Creating systems is easy:

  1. Define the steps and the processes that you need to complete each day to achieve your goals on a long-term basis.
  2. Take time-outs to evaluate your progress, make adjustments as you go along, and your process to optimize your results and reach them faster.

For example, back in November, I told my trainer (and internet bestie) Courtney that I wanted to be able to do a pull-up. I saw a fit chick at my gym doing reps of pull-ups and decided that it would be a good goal for me to work toward.

Before I started, I could barely do one pull-up using a medium-sized resistance band around my foot, and I could do an isometric hold for maybe 10 seconds.

Courtney created a very specific training plan for me where I did certain exercises with machines and resistance bands to build my strength over 8 weeks’ time.

In short, she created a system for me.

I worked out 5 days a week and mixed strength training for my back with cardio, leg workouts and other upper-body movements. I dedicated time to this process every single morning, and made it part of my routine to go to the gym. I chipped away day by day, making slow and steady progress.

Fast forward to January, and I can now do a pull-up:

Thanks Court! 😉

You see, systems involve action items performed on a set schedule. Systems are the steps we need to take to reach our goals, and they can be applied to any goal we’re striving to reach.

You might have a few goals in mind for your business, but if you want to grow or scale, you need more than a goal—you need a system. Growing a business is hard work and requires a solid plan. If you work day by day and stick to your system, the repetitive, consistent actions will add up to something bigger.

In business, if you want to grow or scale, you need to plan the systems that will help you get this done. Growing a business is something that you work on day by day, and ultimately, it’s the smaller, repetitive actions that add up to something bigger.

However, simply having systems isn’t enough. You also need to take time-outs to analyze your progress and make half-time adjustments as necessary. You have to step out of the system regularly to look at results and determine whether everything is working well and progressing as you expect or if something needs to be adjusted. For example, if sales drop, you need to figure out what is causing it, and make a change to your process accordingly.

If you are doing everything yourself and the business is expanding, eventually you will need to hire contractors or employees. Things you may have been able to do yourself will exponentially take up more of your time as your business grows.

This is what is happening to me with Style Collective.

Goals are Good, but Systems are Better 1

Last February when I started Style Collective, I did everything myself: website development, marketing, sales, content creation, graphic design, SEO, and customer service. That was fine when we had 100 or 200 members, but we are now approaching almost 800 members, and I can’t do everything by myself if I want this to be a TRUE business. In October, I hired a graphic designer and development team. Now, I am ready to hire customer service support and a copy editor.

Having systems in place allows me to scale my business for the long term. My plan for scaling is setup using a financial approach so I know when I can hire additional team members. I put 50-60% back into Style Collective every month, and whatever is leftover I set aside for quarterly taxes (40% of my profits go to taxes). The small percentage that’s left after expenses and taxes is saved for future wish-list items for the business. I said this on the Almost 30 Podcast, too, and it may be surprising, but I don’t pay myself and I don’t plan on paying myself until the bricks have been laid and the foundation is set. I am in this for the long term.

Other examples of setting systems:

  • If you’re a runner, set a training schedule to reach your goal of running a race.
  • If you’re saving for a home, create budgets with the Mint app.
  • If you want to write a book, write daily for one hour.
  • If you want to work on your eating habits, develop a set eating schedule.

The complexity of the system depends on the complexity of the goal.

There is a big difference between wanting to be able to do a pull-up and wanting to start and grow a successful business. What is the same is that I followed systems to accomplish those goals. For the pull-ups, I had one system of steps to work on each day for 2 months in order to meet my goal. For Style Collective, I have many systems, and they are shifting and branching as I learn and grow with the business. Even though these goals are nowhere near on the same level, the basic method is the same.

The bottom line is to be in it for the long term.

If you want to be successful, don’t sell yourself short by just setting goals; instead, develop systems to work through day by day to reach your goals. Come up with your plan to execute and make half-time adjustments to optimize your progress. Don’t sell yourself short with setting goals. Instead, develop systems.