Thursday, January 07, 2021

On Goals

I read this on the Reddit rowing sub-forum last week:
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."
--James Clear

I don't know anything about James Clear, but that's one of the most profound things I've read in a long time. 

I talked to Eli 19.5 at length about this, and we agreed that it's a good description of how he manages his life. He is full of systems that many other kids his age simply don't have, and it's one of the reasons he's been so successful. 

In my mind, this started with hockey. We worked together to create schedules and habits that supported his effort. Workouts focused on explosion, not endurance, because the goalie position is an explosive one. He had workout coaches and stretching coaches. He did visual training. He did mental training. 

On the ice, he was systematic, too. 

His entire approach was system-based, which I never understood until I read that quote and started thinking about what we'd done. 

That's translated to the rest of his life, I think, because he is incredibly well-organized and thorough in any area where he wants to excel. He learned how to cook in the most systematic way I've ever seen, selecting recipes on the basis of what they were teaching him. 

Even in the pandemic, he's remained systematic. 

Here's the bonus. In helping him do those things in hockey, I learned about systems myself, even though I wouldn't have expressed it that way at the time. The Man You Trust is absolutely a product of systems and not goals. 

So I started something in order to help him, not even fully understanding it at the time, and it turned into something terrific for both of us. 

I think this explains why so many people (including myself, in the past) can't reach their goals. They have aspirations, but they can't get started, because it's hard to get started and stay on track without systems to support those aspirations. Actually, it's more than hard--it's almost impossible. 

I wish I understood this when I was twenty, but that's true about almost everything, really. The really fantastic thing, though, is that Eli 19.5 already understands. 

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