“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” – Epictetus
To make giant leaps forward in our careers, athletically, intellectually… whatever, is a worthy aspiration. But should it be a goal? Shouldn’t we focus on consistently taking action towards who we want to be, instead of focusing on the end game? If you want to be a great photographer or writer or 400 meter hurdler, then chip away at meaningful activity that moves you incrementally towards realizing that dream. Talk is BS, it’s only the walk that matters.
Shane Parrish recently wrote about Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, who touched on this topic. Adams favors systems over goals because it reinforces success every time you do what you said you were going to do. A goal usually ends up frustrating and discouraging us while a system rewards us constantly:
“Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.” — Scott Adams, as quoted by Shane Parrish in his blog
I don’t agree with Adams on a lot of things, but I definitely see the truth in this statement. We can’t possibly feel successful if a goal is always out of reach, but we can feel good about our last workout or clicking publish one more day. We all should live by our personal credo. But it isn’t what we say that defines our lives, it’s what we do that exemplifies how delusional or on point that credo is. So walk the walk.