Everyone has something they want to achieve in life, such as “to be cool,” “to be successful in business,” “to have a good family,” “to be a best-selling author,” “to be a champion,” and so on. And we will take the first step by setting a detailed and realistic “objective” to achieve it. Columnist JAMES CLEAR used to set objectives in the same way, but he realized that there is a better way when there is something really important that needs to be accomplished. What does that mean?
Forget About Setting Goals…Focus on This Instead – James Clear
What is the difference between “objectives” and “goals”?
An “objective” is to accomplish something, and a “goal” is the specifics of what you are trying to accomplish. Mr. James compares the difference between these terms with specific occupations as follows.
Sports coach: The objective is “to win a championship,” and the goal is “what the athlete will practice every day.
Writer: The goal is to write a book, and the objective is the schedule to be accomplished each week.
Marathon runner: Objective is to win a marathon; goal is a monthly training schedule.
Entrepreneur: Objective is to build a business that makes millions of dollars; Goal is a sales and marketing process.
At this point, JAMES CLEAR asks one question.
Suppose you completely ignore your objective and focus only on your goals. Would you still get results?”
Suppose you were in charge of coaching a basketball team and you ignored your goals and focused on your daily practice program. JAMES CLEAR’s answer is “Yes. A book generally contains between 50,000 and 60,000 words, which is the equivalent of writing two books.
However, JAMES CLEAR did not set an objective such as “I will write two books this year,” nor did he keep count according to any standard. The only rule I had was to write one article every Monday and Thursday. I kept trying to follow that rule, and before I knew it, my word count had reached 115,000. If I had focused on the goal and process of my work, I would have achieved the same or even better results.
◆1: Focus on the process, not just the goal
Striving for the objective can be taken to mean, on the flip side, “It’s not enough now, but it will be enough when we reach our goal. With this way of thinking, you are always implying to yourself that you will not get pleasure or be successful until you reach your objective.
If you set an objective, it becomes an excessive burden. What if JAMES CLEAR had set an objective to “write two books this year”? I’m sure that goal would have become a burden, and the pressure would have been too much to bear,” he says.
The goal of losing a few pounds, achieving business results, or writing a best-selling book would have been a burden that would have been too much to bear. Instead, JAMES CLEAR says, you should focus on steadily completing your daily schedule, simplifying things and removing unnecessary pressure. Instead of just thinking about winning games day in and day out and practicing basketball incessantly, focus on the practice itself and enjoy every moment of it, and the results will follow.
◆2: Don’t seek short-term results too much
A goal does not always support you on the long and arduous road ahead. Suppose a person is training for a half marathon. Often, after working hard and competing in a half marathon and completing the race, they stop training for the last time. Their goal is to “finish the half marathon,” and the moment that goal is achieved, the motivation that motivated them has disappeared. This is similar to the “rebound” in dieting, where the moment you achieve a certain goal, you stop working hard up to that point, and as a result, you lose even the results you achieved and revert back to the way you were before.
One day, JAMES CLEAR was training for weightlifting at the gym. As he was nearing the end of his workout, he felt a slight pain in his leg. It wasn’t anything serious and I was going to go straight into my last set, but I suddenly remembered that I was going to be doing this for the rest of my life, and that was when I decided to end my training that day. At this point, if I had taken a goal-oriented view, I would have gone through to the end without stopping halfway, and I might have thought that stopping halfway was a “failure. However, if one takes a goal-oriented view, this is not a major problem. With goals, it is important to follow a process rather than a specific number.
If you push yourself too hard and break down, it could mean the end of the line. This is why we say, “Goals are worth more than objectives.” Goals are rooted in long-term vision and will always produce the best results.
◆3: Do not predetermine the unforeseeable future
We cannot predict the future. However, when we set an objective, we must decide how far we will go and when we will accomplish it. We don’t even know what might happen along the way, but we have to decide on a path anyway. This may seem worthwhile, but it is not a very efficient method.
JAMES CLEAR processes the calculation of important data for his work every Friday. For example, he calculates the CVR (conversion rate), which indicates how many of the readers who read his weekly column sign up for his newsletter. When the CVR drops, it’s an indication that the column wasn’t very good.
It’s better to have a system that allows you to improve on the feedback you get now, rather than making plans for the future that you don’t know how accurate they will be.
◆Balancing Objectives and Goals
However, that doesn’t mean that setting objectives is meaningless,” says JAMES CLEAR. Objectives are important for “planning” progress, while goals are important for “realizing” progress.
Objectives will provide direction for progress and will also motivate for a short period of time, but well-developed goals will have a much higher impact. The emphasis on process is the key to success, he concludes.
You may often hear the phrase, “Never confuse the ends with the means,” but the same idea runs through the foundation. It is important to always keep the final “destination” in mind and then proceed with things by carefully considering the “goal” or “means” to reach it.