Screw Goals: It's All About Your System

Andrew Read

Contributor - Master RKC, Athletic Adventurer

Melbourne, Australia

Endurance Sports, Kettlebells, Strength and Conditioning


Forget goal setting for 2015. I’m deadly serious. Throw out your vision board and burn the motivational posters. Goal setting for many is a nail in the coffin of their dreams.


The Problem With Goals

The problem isn’t with the goal setting itself. The oath towards a worthy goal is one that can teach you many things and see you accomplish great feats. But many people never accomplish their goals and the reason is simple.



They have no systems.


goals, goal setting, resolutions, fitness resolutions


What’s the difference and why is it so important? A goal is hitting a squat personal record (PR). A system is following a tried-and-tested squat plan like Smolov or 5/3/1 until you

hit that PR. A goal is six-pack abs and 10% body fat. A system is Precision Nutrition.


A SYSTEM TO TRY: How to Get a Big Squat


Having a goal is great, but without the underlying system in place to get you there, you’re doomed to failure no matter how SMART your goals are. Ask yourself whether it’s more important long term to hit that squat PR or to train a certain number of times per week following a set routine?


When it comes to short-term goals, people will put in massive efforts to achieve them - like looking good for a high school reunion or a wedding - yet backslide once the event is over. Famed wrestling coach Dan Gable said, “If it’s important, do it every day.” And that’s exactly what systems are for.


"Having the right systems in pace will lead you to far more success long term than any singular goal you have in the short term."

Systems are daily tasks. If you want to excel, they’re daily tasks done mindfully and to the best of your ability every single time. When you do the daily tasks to the best of your ability, you’ll magically find that after a few years “all of a sudden” you’re pretty good.



Conquering the Handstand

I’ll illustrate by sharing about the time when I was trying to teach myself handstands. I had been following one particular system, which said to perform five sets of handstand work each time I trained. In a given week, that meant I did twenty to 25 sets of handstand work. Then I trained with Ido Portal. He told me to bump it up to twenty to thirty sets a day. Remember: if it’s important, do it daily.


handstand, handstands, gymnastics, bodyweight exercise


Not surprisingly, I went from not being able to hold a freestanding handstand to being able to do it - in under three months. The goal was the handstand, but it was the daily practice of the system that led me to achieve it so quickly.


FREE HANDSTAND PROGRAM: 4 Weeks to Handstand Happiness


Handstands are a great example of what’s needed for success because they require so much from us - balance in an odd position, balance on our hands instead of our feet, body control, flexibility, and wrist strength and flexibility. Not only did I use a general system of handstand training with step-by-step progressions, but I also had access to step-by-step systems for each of those requirements.




"Famed wrestling coach Dan Gable said, 'If it’s important, do it every day.'"

And by the way, Ido estimates the path to the one-handed handstand is between one and three years in length and thirty to fifty sets of work daily. But again, it’s not just random “do some handstands” training, but following a solid system.


Successful Systems

Think about your fitness journey like McDonald’s would. They don’t fly by the seat of their pants. Ever. McDonald’s may be the world’s leaders in systemizing business and it shows with a clear quality delivered worldwide at any one of their millions of outlets.


"Systems allow you to have long-term, consistent success rather than one small achievement in the short term."

McDonalds didn’t think about serving a billion burgers. Instead, they set out to serve burgers that were as close to identical as possible, as efficiently as possible. And along the way, they ended up serving a billion burgers.


While I’m not sure that we need Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours for every task, there is a large degree of success that is tied to mindful repetition. The more practice we accumulate, the closer we get to success.


LEARN: The Art of Practice - 5 Key Elements for Perfect Practice



Writing is another great example of this. In the past year I have written roughly 100 articles for Breaking Muscle. At an average of 1,000 words per article, that means I’ve written over 100,000 words. My first book, Beast Tamer, was 26,000 words plus exercise pictures and programs. In other words, by following my weekly system of writing for Breaking Muscle and other magazines, I have written enough to have produced four books this year - and all without actually having sat down and said to myself, “I’m going to write a book now.”


That’s how powerful systems can be.


Find a System to Follow in 2015

In Australia, it’s coming into summer and Christmas holidays. So now is the time of year gyms are at their busiest as we have the big combination of summer holidays (like the U.S. Fourth of July) plus New Year’s.


goals, beach body, fitness goals, new years resolutions


The most common goal for people is obviously about looking good in not much clothing, but it’s made doubly hard by the fact that many will be going to any number of work and family functions during this time. So how should a person go about tackling this goal?



WORKOUT DATABASE: 100s of Free Systems to Follow in 2015


I urge you to give up on goal setting for 2015 if you want to experience uncommon levels of success and instead focus on refining your systems. Having the right systems in pace will lead you to far more success long term than any singular goal you have in the short term. Systems allow you to have long-term, consistent success rather than one small achievement in the short term.


Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

See more about: , , , ,
Breaking Muscle Newsletter

Breaking Muscle Newsletter

Get updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.