I recently had dinner with a couple of friends. We were all around 21–22 years old. One is about to graduate college, the other two were working in ad agencies and then there was me: a writer for a magazine, and a part-time lifestyle & bridal blogger. The one about to graduate wanted to follow the footsteps of the two ad agency girls, something completely understandable since our degrees were directed towards that path. The two ad agency girls were guiding the soon-to-graduate friend of ours, and I… was just there.
During our conversations, I got lost in the flurry of terms and plans. Sure, I knew the advertising industry but it l felt like I was outside of it and there was no way for me to be there. Never have I felt more unaccomplished in my life.
The three of them toasted “Executives by 30!” or something to that extent and there I was, not knowing if I should toast with them or not. I didn’t, in case you were wondering. I didn’t want to commit to it because what if I failed? What if I didn’t make that deadline and they did? Why didn’t I have a goal in the first place? Why didn’t I make time to make a dream journal? Why was I so happy-go-lucky when it came to my dreams?
So many questions came to mind when they were toasting. I had many questions. WHY? WHY DIDN’T I HAVE A PLAN LIKE THEM?! I’M GOING NOWHERE. I’LL BE OLD AND PURPOSELESS AND LAME AND BROKE WHILE THEY GET PENTHOUSE UNITS AND SPORTS CARS WITH THEIR GOALS. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks like this)
Like any Millennial would’ve probably done, I went on self-help/career-support websites. I then came across James Clear. He pointed out the importance of systems over goals.
“Commit to a process, not a goal.” — James Clear
Creating a process in yourself and your lifestyle allows you to focus on the journey and not the destination. Cheesy but true. We all know that the journey (process) takes more time than the destination (goal) which is why it only makes sense that we strive to love the process.
I think it was also Austin Kleon (one of my forever favorite authors/artists) who said that you have to focus on the creative process first and not the product. This totally makes sense because the process is what creates the product anyway. Ace the process = ace the product.
A process is the bridge you create brick by yellow brick to get to a goal.
People change. Our wants, desires, dreams, aspirations, goals and so on change. What if you have been striving with your goals for the past decade and once you get to that goal, it’s not what you expect it would be like? What if that goal looked great as a goal because it was, well… a goal. It was desirable because you didn’t have it. It was a nice thing to strive for but you get this “That’s it?” moment once you attain it.
Here’s what’s worse: what if you never get to that goal?
The universe has a funny way of playing with us. I’ve known people who have been striving for a promotion for years and they still haven’t gotten it after years of waiting. I know some people who want to pass their licensure exams (aspiring lawyers, engineers, architects, etc) and still fail at it after 3 tries. It can get depressing to not accomplish something you’ve been aspiring for.
You can’t go wrong with having a system/process because you get to practice creating and you get to master your craft. Malcom Gladwell mentioned in Outliers the 10,000 hour rule; but don’t think that doing something for 10,000 hours will make you the master of making cheese or pressed coffee.
The process also helps you create character in the long-run, which is greatly needed in self-development. But this doesn’t meant that we have to rule out goals completely.
I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress. — James Clear.
Goals are great to have but making things happen is what matters, and to that I will be willing to toast.