“Process creates events others see as luck.” -MJ Demarco
Ordinary people focus on the outcome.
Extraordinary people focus on the process.
Setting goals is one of the most common strategies people use to get from point A to point B. It’s the strategy most people will use come January 1st in a few weeks.
But if this is the most commons strategy…why do so many people fail at achieving their goals?
The answer is simple: “setting goals” isn’t the best way to achieve goals. It works sometimes, sure. But the truth is, it’s a low-frequency behavior that keeps you from quickly getting what you want.
Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, once wrote:
“Vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan.”
Setting goals and vowing to succeed makes you feel good in the moment, but it’s the same response a drug addict has after a relapse; swearing off helps unload the guilt and shame of another failure.
Instead of setting yourself up for another failure, consider switching to an elite strategy: creating a system that sets you up for success.
Creating a system that automatically achieves your goals is a high-frequency behavior. It flies in the face of setting goals altogether, and quickly gets you what you want — upgrading yourself in the process.
Ordinary people set goals.
Extraordinary people create systems that automatically achieve those goals.
In his autobiography, Bryan Cranston (Walter White of the renowned Breaking Bad) described the lesson he learned that helped him go from an average actor to an extraordinary one. Here’s what he wrote:
“Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living…but I felt I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Then, Breck Costin [his mentor] suggested I focus on process rather than outcome.
I wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn’t going to compete.
I was going to give something.
I wasn’t there to get a job. I was there to do a job. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to be compelling. Take come chances. Enjoy the process.”
Cranston went on to say after he made this mindset shift, he felt much more relaxed and free. There was no longer any pressure, because the outcome was irrelevant. “Once I made the switch, I had power in any room I walked into,” he wrote. “Which meant I could relax. I was free.”
Soon after this shift, Cranston was offered a role in the wildly popular Malcolm in the Middle, for which he was nominated for 3 Emmy awards. He is now one of the most respected and well-known actors in the world.
When most people see someone famous, successful, or rich, one of the most common responses goes something like, “Well, that person got lucky.”
What these people don’t understand is that wealth, success, and achievement isn’t an event; it’s the result of a long process. It’s the fruit of a tree that took years to plant, water, prune, nurture, and grow.
Ordinary people see success as an event: akin to winning the lottery or being “blessed.”
But the truth is, the result of 95% of truly successful people wasn’t an event, it was the result of a long, intense focus on the process.
In a study by the Harrison Group of about 3,000 penta-millionaires (individuals with at least $5 million dollars in net worth), the vast majority (nearly 80%) revealed they earned their income in a big lump sum, after years of effort.
Many people would see these individuals and claim these people were “just lucky”, getting their money all at once. But that’s the nature of a fruit tree: after a long time of planting, watering, maintaining, and growing — “process,” in other words — one day, you suddenly have a lot of fruit.
By focusing on process, you’ll achieve the result. But if you focus solely on the result, you risk wasting enormous time and energy through a subpar strategy.
In the words of New York Times best-selling author of Atomic Habits, James Clear:
“Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers. It wasn’t the goal of winning the Tour de France that propelled the British Cyclists to the top of the sport. Presumably, they had wanted to win the race every year before — just like every other professional team. The goal had always been there. It was only when they implemented a system of continuous small improvements that they achieved a different outcome.”
It’s not the goal. Both the winners and losers had the same goal.
No — it’s the system in which each individual lived in. It was their plan, their strategy to victory, that set them apart.
Everyone wants the same thing: to be happy, to be free, to win.
But whoever has the better system wins the prize.
“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you end up depends entirely on who you choose to be from this moment forward.” -Hal Elrod, Best-selling author
Everything worthwhile has a price.
The truth is, you can have whatever you want — if you do whatever it takes.
Your goal has a price. The bigger the goal, the higher the price.
Many people set subpar goals. The price of success isn’t even that high, yet they still consistently don’t pay. The result is a life full of what-if’s and should-have-been’s. We all know a person like this.
One of the turning points for me was when I began seeing my success as my responsibility, as a duty. If I didn’t succeed, it was my fault.
In the words of best-selling author Grant Cardone:
“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.”
So I ask a simple question of you about your goals:
Are you willing to put in the work they require?
Don’t feel like you have to say yes. If you’re not willing, that’s fine. Don’t lie to yourself about it.
But make no mistake: your goals have a price. They require much of you.
The price isn’t setting the goal itself; everyone already does that. It’s no guarantee.
The price is the system you need to create to achieve them.
Are you willing to pay the price?
Not many people have achieved a truly enormous, life-changing victory.
I’m very grateful for seeing several of these enormous victories.
The first one that comes to mind is my victory over pornography. After being heavily addicted to porn for nearly 15 years, I had lost hope of ever stopping. Years before I even met my wife, I remember sadly thinking that when I got married, I’d have to hide my habit, because I knew there was no way I could stop.
But after years of counseling and therapy, I’ve stopped. I don’t look at porn anymore. The freedom is incredible and indescribable.
I’ve also seen my writing transform from the scribblings of a no-name blog with no readers to a full-time writing business, with hundreds of thousands of readers every single month.
I’ve realized that most people haven’t seen a huge, life-changing transformation in their own life — not yet, at least.
The main reason? Many of these people haven’t changed their approach. And if you do the things they way you always have, you’ll just get what you’ve always got.
Best-selling author Grant Cardone also wrote:
“In order to get to the next level of whatever you’re doing, you must think and act in a wildly different way than you previously have been.”
It took entirely new perspectives and a profound attitude change for me to see the results I have today. My old behavior wasn’t serving me anymore; what helped me survive as a child was now hindering my path to success.
Ordinary people continue to live with their mediocre behaviors.
Extraordinary people trade in the old for the new and develop better mindsets. These new beliefs help them create a system that will automatically achieve their most important goals.
“Setting goals” isn’t enough.
Both winners and losers set the same goals; what set them apart is the system each creates to achieve that goal. Most people don’t set a good system, if at all; extraordinary people and winners create incredible systems that automatically achieve goals.
What is your system?
Have you set up a good-enough system yet?
If not, that’s OK. Perhaps you need to upgrade other areas of your life first — your relationships, your health,your schedule, your belief system — before you can develop a truly incredible system.
But make no mistake — without this system, you’ll be stuck fighting the same old battles, struggling against the same obstacles and problems you’ve always faced.
Ordinary people set goals.
But extraordinary people create systems that automatically achieve those goals.
If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.