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Image by: Stacy Spensley
By Josie Alexander
For a lot of us, goal-setting doesn’t work. We set goals for our future but find ourselves wandering off-course more often than not. So what will work? Are there other options? If you can’t focus on a goal, why not try working with a system to achieve your business (or personal) goals?
A system is a set of tasks or a routine that you follow in order to achieve a desired result. Let me show you by example:
If you are a freelance writer or an aspiring novelist, your goal may be to get a book published. However, your system will be to set up a writing regimen or routine for your workweek.
If you are starting your own business, your goal may be run a successful business or make a certain amount of money this year. However, your system will be to set up and follow your marketing and sales process.
If you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, your goal may be to run a happy and healthy home and start a successful Etsy shop. However, your system will be to set up a schedule so that you can make so many products a week and to follow a sales process.
So how do you know if a system will work best for you? Let’s look at some of the facts about systems and goals to see which would benefit you (as a businesswoman or in your personal life).
#1) Concrete VS Abstract
Goal-setting has always worked for me, however for others “goals” are such an abstract concept that they can’t focus on them. There are many different types of women on this world; a large chunk of those women are concrete thinkers while others are abstract thinkers.
Abstract thinkers tend to be women who consider themselves artists and they can easily grasp abstract concepts (things that aren’t necessarily tangible). Concrete thinkers are logical thinkers. The difference between the two can be seen better by example.
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A concrete thinker can see a ball in a room and can conclusively tell you what color it is (“That is a big red ball.”) while an abstract thinker can look at the ball and come up with different conclusions. For example, an abstract thinker can think about size and/or color in general (“That ball is a ‘brighter red’ than a setting sun or the color that a fire truck is, as it speeds by your house.”)
There are pros and cons about being either a concrete or an abstract thinker (there are even people who are a combination of both). There are also ways of thinking that work best for one versus the other. Concrete thinkers work best when they think about systems versus goals. Systems are more tangible. You can also micro-manage better (if that is how your mind works) with a system.
#2) Do Goals Make You Unhappy?
If you find that you haven’t achieved your goal in a reasonable amount of time, you may feel a jolt to your self-esteem. Also, you may also feel unhappy if you set unreasonably big goals. That can put a burden on your shoulders. It can also make you feel as though that task is no longer fun and enjoyable.
In addition to that, stagnant goals (long term goals that just loom in the distance like that monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey) may deter you because it could feel as though that goal is always “just out of reach”.
Systems are a routine or set of steps that you work on every day (or workday). Because of that, you may be constantly seeing progress, which is a great motivator and it can keep you passionate about the end results.
As a businesswoman, instead of just making the goal of “making a profit of X dollars this year”, you can see the progress of a system by watching your profits go up. If they are not going up with the system, you can always alter the system.
#3) The Ability To Be Flexible
Setting a goal for your business almost feels as though you are setting it in stone. You write it down and post it up so that your team-members can see it. However, with a system, you can make it as flexible as you need to. Let your team know ahead of time that this system is a trial run and that their opinions and input are a necessity to help make the system work (and to work out the kinks). If you say that about a goal though, it will appear to be wishy-washy.
“This is our goal. However it may change depending on your input.”
#4) The Perfect Set-Up
The rationale behind having a goal is to providing yourself with a sense of direction, and that is something that everyone needs. With that in mind, the perfect system is to incorporate both goals and systems into your business. Make that goal (dream big) and then set systems in place to achieve that goal. Use your goal to help plan your system. Use your system to be help you achieve your goal.