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Setting Systems: The Best Way To Achieve Your Goals Without Thinking About Them

Feb 26, 2020

We live in a world where results matter. Businesses scramble to meet their monthly sales quotas and engagement rates. In our personal lives, we go about our day with little tasks and things to tick off in our to-do lists. All of these serve to achieve our goals. 

What an ominous word. Goals. The thing that motivates us to wake up every day. 

Now imagine a world without them. Chaotic. Directionless. Impossible.

You’re right. We’re not going to ask you to stop setting goals. But we’d like to propose a different, more sustainable, strategy for achieving them: systems.

In the New York Times’ best-selling book Atomic Habits, author James Clear defines a goal as a result you want to achieve, while a system is a process that leads you to those results. 

Again, the intention here is not to completely forego setting goals. They help give you direction and quantify performance. But pouring your efforts into designing the best system for your endeavors means you’re working smarter by structuring your work and personal life around a long-term vision. 

This way, your goals happen naturally as you’ve already set your systems to run like a well-oiled machine. 

Let’s apply these ideas to a practical scenario.

Imagine two marketing teams from competing brands. They both set similar KPIs for Q1. Team A worked tirelessly each morning, concentrating purely on the goals they’ve laid for themselves (even writing these down and pinning them to their desks to literally stare at every day). 

Team B, on the other hand, said, “This is what we want to achieve, so how do we make it happen?” Rather than fixating solely on their goals, they focused on creating better work systems.

They restructured their communication lines by breaking down team silos and having weekly check-ins. This in turn helped speed up their production process and improved their quality of work. By being more involved in establishing said systems, they were able to be more creative and critical. 

In the end, Team B outranked Team A by a mile. They not only exceeded their set KPIs, they were also able to celebrate their camaraderie and the intangible skills they got to develop. A triple win situation.

Both teams had the same goal. But one chose to shift their attention on the little factors that affected the journey, not the endpoint. Therefore, those who concentrate on systems win big.

We often see our lives through a binary lens. If we achieve x and y, then we become happy… until we want another set of x and y. If we don’t meet our goals…we beat ourselves up, stress over it for days, or lose our motivation to move forward. 

The duality of goals is especially true in marketing. 

With the fast-paced landscape of marketing, our SMART goals change from time to time. When we fail to meet these by even a hair, the knee-jerk response is to question the specific content produced. But how about we try asking questions about the current systems instead?

Did we communicate effectively across all stakeholders? Did we monitor the team’s workflow? Was everyone trained properly? How was feedback given? Sometimes, we overlook the process and this might be the clincher to our biggest problems.

This is the beauty of directing your energy towards crafting effective systems. By creating positive habits over time and being mindful of the actions you take, chances for success become much higher. Not to mention the feeling of it won’t be as fleeting. 

The marketing industry is almost always part of the “Most Stressful Careers” list. Though we acknowledge that many factors attribute to this, we can at least find solutions to minimize our fatigue. 

When you build efficient systems for your teams, your fulfillment comes less from accomplishing the goals you set, and more from the effort and hard work you’ve invested into those goals.

Adapting a systems-first mentality also helps in holistic growth.

Especially for businesses—where you have tons of little things to align and decisions to make—embarking on this long-term version of success is grueling. But rest-assured, the reward won’t be short-lived. 

When you are constantly working towards forming better processes as changes happen in your company, the whole establishment becomes more resilient. It will show in your numbers, too.

This mindset might not be for everyone, but we hope that by reading this, you realize the value of working towards growth rather than results. 

Dot Digital PH is a digital marketing agency that creates data-driven campaigns for tangible, authentic results. We specialize in social media marketing, web development, and content creation. Drop us a message and schedule a call to know how we can help grow your digital presence.