It would be amazing if easy-to-follow, linear steps to success actually existed. I mean, as a kid, that’s what I was taught to believe: Get good grades, get a solid SAT score, go to college, become an astronaut, have a beautiful family, live happily ever after, the end. But back here on planet Earth (with no disrespect to the astronauts out there, of course), success isn’t a staircase a with clear and concrete upward trajectory. Instead, it’s an ongoing, fluid task to chip away at every day by not just setting goals, but implementing consistent habits to make ourselves strong and confident forces to be reckoned with. That is, it requires cultivating a success system.
“My advice is to focus on processes over goals,” life coach Susie Moore tells me. “Because a goal isn’t enough to achieve success, you need a system to get you there. Systems work—they provide clarity and keep you on track.” So while it’s super swell to have an updated list of things you want to (and even plan to) accomplish, that list alone won’t make the things, events, and productive advancements of your success dreams fall into your lap. All of that certainly makes sense…but, um, what is a system?
“A goal is essentially an objective that you either achieve or don’t achieve sometime in the future,” Moore says. “A system is something you do on a regular basis that makes achieving your goal inevitable. It also boosts your self-esteem because you win daily by taking regular actions toward something you want.” For those of you in that back, if you do something on the reg, it’s a system, but if it’s something you’re waiting to achieve at some unknown future date, it’s a goal.
“A goal is essentially an objective that you either achieve or don’t achieve sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that makes achieving your goal inevitable.” —Susie Moore, life coach
For example, finding a new job is an excellent goal to have if your current one is, say, a soul-sucking hellhole with terrible coffee. But simply sitting tight and willing it to happen won’t get you an influx of promising interviews; instead, you need to establish a system. And once you have that system in place, you can feel like you’re on track to fulfill a concrete dream.
But how, exactly, do you set up a system? Though there may not be obvious or literal steps to success, there are quick measure you can take to easily establish a success system. Find Moore’s three-step plan below.
1. Define your goal in a measurable way
If your plan for attack with any goal you have is vague at best, you won’t be able to clearly see the results. To avoid this, establish something close to a SMART Goal, AKA something that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. This method makes your goal less of a nebulous concept and simpler to visualize.
So, let’s revisit the scenario of you looking for a new job: Don’t record the thought in your journal. Instead, write down a clear objective with a clear time stamp, like “Start an account director role at a PR firm by November 30.” You can’t know what exactly the future holds, but keeping a deadline in mind is a great strategy for staying on top of things.
2. Write down 3 repetitive action steps to success that will all but guarantee you reach your goal
This step is the core of your system: creating small actions that will help you achieve your goal. If the goal is snagging a new account director job, assign yourself active career-oriented tasks on a weekly or daily basis.
“A system could be reaching out to three people in your network every day, updating your LinkedIn profile with new skills, and going to one career networking event a week,” says Moore. Or it could be applying to at least one job daily, setting a weekly coffee meeting with someone in your field, and only crying for 15 minutes when your college roommate announces on Facebook that she got a promotion at her great job. Or, you know, whatever suits you.
3. Put it in your Google Calendar
The final way Moore suggests solidifying your success system is by taking the time to cement it in. And if you’ve ever wanted to keep any sort of plans with me, you know that the best way to do that is to make it official in the all-knowing Google Cal. So, back to the job-snagging goal: If a fun (or even not fun, TBH) networking event invitation reaches your inbox and you think, Hm, maybe I should go, do not hesitate in your response or decision on it. Instead, RSVP and make sure that noise is detailed into your schedule, so you’re less inclined to bail.
And…that’s it! Though trying to achieve lofty goals and be successful in a way that feels great isn’t always as simple as 1-2-3, systems provide a framework that can be applied to any goal. They allow you to do the legwork and hold yourself accountable for achieving goals in a way that’s realistic. And if you can set one up and stick to it, you’ll find that you may even find yourself on what feels like the success elevator to exactly where you want to be in life.
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