Goal or System?

Do I need a goal or system to succeed?

This is a question you probably never ask yourself and yet you should because the answer makes a huge difference in terms of results. Especially for things, you’d like to achieve in your lifetime.

Owning a successful business, getting a better body, writing a best-seller, raising wonderful children or winning a championship to name a few. For most of us, the catalyst to those things begins by setting ourselves a specific actionable goal.

Over the years this was my chosen route until early 2010 when I became so bogged down with information I couldn’t see the wood for the trees and found myself in a state of overwhelm……

What Changed?

Around this time I was due to begin studies for a Masters Degree and found myself thinking: how can I fit more information into my head when there’s already so much other stuff in there? The thing was I couldn’t dump any of it to make more room as it was all really important, relevant and very broad……

As a creative person who often stays up all night when the ideas are flowing: it was common for me to have multiple tasks on the go with none of them finished. Not because I lacked motivation or a strong work ethic, on the contrary in my case one idea would inform another until the mental snowball gathered such momentum I would end up working on a new task before finishing the original.

By sunrise, I would have loads of new stuff for my already jam-packed arsenal of information and ideas. Alas, I had to file this on my laptop for another day because I still hadn’t finished the task I sat down to do. I knew something had to change and it did…..

During my Masters one of the first groups I attended was action learning.

Here we were expected to drill down “narrow and deep” academically speaking, to find a solution for work-based problems being experienced by fellow cohorts. It was one of the most difficult yet most effective things I’d ever learned to do. At first, I was driven mad by this method, as the student who always strayed from the “narrow and deep” rule I wanted to discuss things in a broader sense, however, over time I learned to rein this in and this has since served me well.

These days I use it in almost everything I do. You probably know it as breaking things down into manageable chunks although if you’re a busy person used to multi-tasking it’s very difficult to stay with one thing and complete the task in its entirety before moving on. Once I grasped: there was a much better way of doing things I never looked back. The change came once I’d understood: there are “goals” and there are “systems” and to achieve the goal you’ve got to follow a system.

So What’s The Difference?

The goal is the end game. The system is what it takes to get you there.

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re a writer: your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
  • Premiere league coach: your goal is to win the championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • Long-distance runner: your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule each month.
  • Weight Loss Coach: your system is creating a lesson to motivate your client each week until they hit their target weight.
  • Entrepreneur: your goal is to build a million-pound business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.

Now that I have my systems in place for “completion” I still sometimes work through the night however, I stay with one thing. I never sway from it until it’s completed and instead of having lots more things on my to-do list I now have lots more things on my done list.

The great news is nothing is wasted. Everything I’d worked on before is now systematically going through the stages of completion and that feels wonderful.

Why You Need A System

You can have 20 great things on the go but with none of them finished you won’t earn a penny or enjoy the benefits of completion. Work on one thing, finish it then sell or implement it. Do that 19 more times and that’s a system that works over and over……….

My system for completion is not complicated: I use three post It notes

  1. Is stuck to the free edge of my laptop and tells me: what topic/issue I’m working on.
  2. Is next to the first and says: don’t move off-topic.
  3. Is stuck on my kettle and says: stand still – wait for the kettle to boil – don’t start anything else. Make a cuppa -now go back and continue with tonight’s topic.

    I work between my laptop and the kettle so these “post-it” notes always have my eye!

You can apply these rules to many areas of your life and of course, you can adapt your system to suit your needs. The post-it example above is very simplistic to get the point across, nonetheless it’s a system that works for me.

Here’s to a system thats for you!


Dee Coxon
Dee Coxon
DEE Coxon is a bestselling author of Polish The Diamond In Your Heart and Business Start-up Coach who inspires women to go beyond their known capabilities and get their business online in less time. A former hairdresser and beauty therapist she learned everything she knows about women within the four walls of her own salon where she admits to getting more satisfaction helping clients with their personal struggles, than she did doing their hair and makeup! Self-employed since she was 18, she eventually left her vocational path, swapped her scissors for a lap top and entered the world of academia. In the year she turned 50 Dee gained a Master’s degree, a teaching certificate, became a grandmother and lost her mother to cancer after a 2 year battle, during which she nursed her. A quote by Rufus wainwright: You’re born twice, once at your birth and again when your mother dies” had a profound effect and changed the way she sees and does things now. As the creator of The Fast Class: A bespoke, 1 to 1, accelerated learning experience, designed for beginners and delivered in one day. Dee blends expertise with life experience to make sure her clients get past those self-imposed barriers that keep them from launching a business they love. Dovetailing these two elements is fundamental to the Fast Class and reflected in Dee’s coaching style. Why? Because she believes, no matter where you are in your business journey something is happening within the context of your life, the two are inextricably linked.

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