Why systems are better than goals–especially in marketing
By: Ryan Burgio
August 2, 2017 | Reading Time: 2 mins
“Willpower is a finite resource. Don’t pick a model that has failure built into it and requires that you constantly drain a finite resource.” – Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert
From an early age, we’re taught to set clear goals and to focus on achieving them. From SMART goals to stretch goals, we’re taught that goals are the basis of all success. But they aren’t. Goals are the outcomes of systems. Systems drive our daily habits and behaviours. They form the basis of a consistent approach to accomplishment. And if you gave me the choice between having a big goal vs. a stellar system, I’d take the system any day.
Still not convinced? Think about that friend that is constantly trying to lose 10 lbs. They talk about losing the weight. If they ever actually lose it, it just comes right back. They are in a constant state of failure.
Now think about that friend that’s in great shape. They eat well. They go to the gym. But they rarely are in goal cycles. Eating well and going to the gym is a system that allows them to feel better. They have a system that generates a positive feeling. They talk about things like the runner’s high or the gym pump. Now tell me: who is more likely to stay healthy and fit?
This Applies to Marketing
In marketing, we’re bombarded with goals. Go generate 100 qualified leads! Get us more Twitter followers.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with setting that goal. But I’d rather set that accomplishment in the context of a system. “Marketing will create a digital lead generation system that delights our audience through education. We will educate our audience in exchange for leads.”
Avoiding Goal Fatigue
With systems, you can avoid marketing goal fatigue. In marketing, when you miss your goal you become despondent. You hit your goal, celebrate it for a short period of time, and then are tasked with another one. You’re in a constant state of goal failure or goal ramp up. It’s a path to burnout. In systems, when you don’t hit a goal, you can tweak your approach. Instead of being despondent about falling short, you can be excited about tweaking your engine. That’s much more exciting.
But Systems Are Boring Right?
“Most smart people run into problems because they can’t stay the course. They entertain too many distractions, which eat them alive.” – Brent Beshore, CEO of Adventur.es
I crave spontaneity and detest routine. But I love systems. They provide me with a baseline for improvement. They provide me with a consist desire to be great. All of Stryve’s blog posts were created because of a blogging system. Our blog wouldn’t exist without it.
Systems also eliminate unnecessary distractions. It has never been easier to be distracted by opportunity. With systems, you stay the course and build something great over time. To me, that’s as exciting as it gets.