Goal Setting Is a Hamster Wheel. Learn to Set Systems Instead.

Goal setting is a hamster wheel, says Adam Alter. If you want to channel your best work and get off the failure circuit, set systems instead.

You've just achieved a goal you've been working towards for two years. You did it! Congratulations. Someone asks you: how does it feel? "Kind of anti-climactic, actually," you say. This scenario is quite common among those who have achieved even the highest benchmarks in business, athletics, or art, says Adam Alter, and it's because the goal setting process is broken. With long-term goals particularly, you spend the large majority of the time in a failure state, awaiting what could be a mere second of success down the track. This can be a hollow and unrewarding process. Describing an idea first proposed by Scott Adams in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Alter suggests swapping quantitative goals (I will write 1,000 words of my novel per day. I will run 1km further every week) for qualitative systems—like writing every morning with no word target, or running in a new environment each week—that nourish you psychologically, and are independently rewarding each time you do them. Adam Alter is the author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

Redefine Your Limits by Being Honest With Yourself

Do you retreat from your ambitions out of fear? Self-preservation isn't doing you any favors, says Kyle Maynard. Confront your excuses and live more honestly.

Why don’t we chase our dreams? What if everyone confronted the daily excuses they make for themselves? Innovation would explode around us. Life satisfaction would soar. Any yet we typically keep a safe distance from our inner-most ambitions. Self-preservation is linked to a deep evolutionary drive that makes us err on the side of caution to avoid social isolation or decimation at the toothy end of a lion. It’s time to tear down these ancient and ultimately irrational behaviors, says Kyle Maynard. Being the first quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the aid of prosthetics, he has lived his life on the philosophy of ‘No Excuses’. Being honest with yourself about what your excuses are empowers you to push back against them and truly live. Kyle Maynard is the author of No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.

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