Goals Or Systems – What Is The Right Approach To Life?

Darryl Bachmeier
May 21, 2019

Most people feel that the best way to succeed in life is to set goals. It’s like deciding your destination so that you do not go astray.

People set goals to live better and focus all their motivation towards it. Satisfaction comes only when we reach the goal.

But should you aim to set goals in life or adopt a system? Which is the better approach to life to be successful?

Goals Approach and Systems Approach

There are two philosophies people follow in life regarding their aims. Recently, people show a preference for the systems-approach more than the goal-setting approach.

In simple words:

  • Goal setting approach- it is about setting goals in life and working towards it.

For instance, I have to study 10 hours every day.

  • Systems approach- it is about changing the way of life to inculcate a better habit to succeed.

For instance, I must study thoroughly every day in depth.

What happens in a goal-oriented approach?

A goal-oriented approach in life is like setting the target in front of you on the dartboard and trying to hit the bull’s eye.

Person driven by goals

In this kind of philosophy in life, people set the target before-hand to achieve success. Their entire focus is directed towards that particular goal in mind. Therefore, they channelize all their energies to fulfill the goal and achieve success and satisfaction. The person is driven by the goals he or she sets in life.

For instance, a person decides that he has to lose 10 kilos in a month. Every moment the person thinks about losing weight. He does everything to lose 10 kilos as soon as possible within a month.

Goals can bring disappointment

Having a goal-oriented approach in life is not only about success and happiness. It may bring along a lot of disappointment.

When a person sees that a goal is unattainable or fails at reaching the goal, it brings immense disappointment. The person may feel depressed when they see failure. This may happen when you set unrealistic goals and fail to reach them.

For instance, you decide to earn $70,000 annually and set it as your target. But you are just able to earn $50,000. Since you didn’t achieve the target that you were aiming for so dedicatedly, you feel depressed.

Goal-approach may not bring progress in the long run

Another thing to remember about the goal-oriented approach is that it may not bring long term progress.

The person may give up the efforts after reaching the goal. This guarantees no progress in the long run as the efforts and dedication change after the immediate target is achieved.

For example, a person decides to lose 10 kilos in a month. Once the person achieves this target, he or she feels complacent and gives up exercising.

What happens in a systems-oriented approach?

The new trend people follow is the system-oriented approach. Here, the person concentrates on improving the general way of life to get better over time.

Overall betterment

The whole approach is like an improvement program where the person adapts to a new way of life to achieve something better. Instead of having a specific goal, we direct our focus and energy to inculcate certain habits in our daily process. Once we are habituated to this lifestyle, we perform better to achieve what we want.

Better results in the long run

Instead of immediate achievements, the systems approach produces long term results, making you consistently better each day. The system that you adopt in your life improves the area you are focusing on.

Happiness and satisfaction

When you change your attitude towards life and adopt a better way of living and habits, it brings happiness and satisfaction. You can feel content with your overall achievements such as better health and fitness or academic results.

Goal-Setting Or Systems Approach - Which Is Better?

So, is the systems approach always the better method? Should you apply a goal-oriented approach to life or adopt the systems approach philosophy?

Here are some of the factors that decide the approach you should take:

  • type of achievement you want
  • purpose of the work
  • whether you are a beginner
  • whether you have been failing constantly
  • whether you want to achieve something special soon

When is the goal approach better?

When you have to immediately achieve something special or specific, it is best to go for a goal-oriented approach.

Having a specific goal will drive you to achieve it at any cost and meet success if you are dedicated enough.

Thus, if you want to score an A grade in the exams, work hard without distractions for months to get it by setting it as your immediate goal.

When is the systems approach better?

If you are a beginner or have been continuously failing at something, it is time you go for the systems approach to achieving overall betterment. The systems approach will lead you towards a better way of life for complete improvement. Don’t focus on a target at the moment. Just ensure you adopt some healthy habits and practices for betterment.

If you want to lose weight and stay fit, do not set a goal of losing some kilos in a week. Instead, hit the gym regularly and have a low-calorie diet to maintain an ideal weight.


Decide whether you want immediate success, or your aim is long-term progress and betterment. Choose the approach that suits your demands from life and achieve whatever you want to.

A combination of the two can also guide you throughout your life for both long-term and immediate success. Start working, growing, and improving each day.

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