The Counter-Intuitive Approach to Goal Setting That’ll Reduce Stress & Improve Results

By James Vannelli | Uncategorized

Jan 06

Entering my sixth year as an entrepreneur, one thing I can tell you with certainty is that goals are an extremely tricky concept.

Everyone knows about goals and the concept seems simple at the surface.

If you’ve been in the entrepreneurship or even the personal development space for more than a minute, that might seem like a weird statement to you…

In the personal development space its all about vision boards and the law of attraction, and other things of that nature…

On the flipside, the business side of things tends to involve things like KPIs, metrics, and so forth.

So what’s the confusion?

Goals are necessary…

Goals help you set a clear direction for how to move your business forward, and how to measure progress…

That’s all well and true.

But here’s where goals can hurt you on a personal level, as an entrepreneur…

Proper business goals are all about achieving specific and measurable outcomes.

Unfortunately, in life, none of us have true control on any outcomes.

Things are inevitably going to fall short.

You’re not going to achieve 100% of your goals, especially if you’re actually setting goals that try to push your boundaries.

So if you’re measuring your PERSONAL success, value, intelligence, and capacity based on outcome-focused goals, you’re setting yourself up for an emotional beatdown.

Didn’t achieve a 20% email open rate? You’re a failure.

Didn’t reach your target sales goal this month? You suck at sales.

Leads are coming in at a cost of more than $5? You messed up.

Didn’t achieve the desired result with a client? You’re an imposter, so just quit…

This is the way my brain was wired for a LONG time, and let me tell you, it lead to a lot of stress, a lot of frustration, and a lot of depressed episodes, not to mention panic attacks and massive anxiety.

In 2018, however, I started to shift my approach to goals.

Some of this came through the work I did with my mindset coach, Gigi Azmy.

And some of it came through insights I picked up from other smart business people.

One perspective came from Scott Adams, author of the cartoon Dilbert, who wrote about goals in his book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”.

Scott focuses on SYSTEMS instead of OUTCOMES.

He knows where he wants to go, he notes it down, but then he just focuses on the SYSTEMS he’s using to get moving in a general direction.

So at the end of the week, or month, or year, even if he hasn’t reached the ultimate goal, he’s not focused on that. He’s focused on whether or not he followed through on whatever systems he devised to move in the direction he wanted to move. If so, no matter the outcome, it was a success.

Ben Settle, a notable email marketer in the internet marketing industry, has a similar philosophy.

Ben, unlike most email marketers, doesn’t give a crap about email open rates, click rates, or unsubscribes.

He’s primarily focused on sales, but even at that, he doesn’t obsess over sales numbers.

His biggest focus is what actions he’s taking on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Like Scott, he’s focused on systems.

For instance, Ben sends out daily emails to his list.

So rather than focusing on how many people open, click, or buy through those emails, he just focuses on ensuring he never misses an email, stays consistent with his system, works on improving his copywriting, the value he delivers, and so forth.

By remaining consistent with his actions, the results will come eventually, and he knows that.

Funny enough, I was having a beer while watching the hockey game with my friend Ryan last week, and we were talking about our numbers and business stuff.

Ryan, who’s a top salesman at a Finance company here in Toronto reminded me “forget about the numbers”.

Evidently, Ryan has the same secret to success as Scott and Ben.

He usually has a target number in mind for sales but he focuses on showing up every day, putting his calls in, working his system, and not getting caught up in the ups and downs of sales.

He knows that at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter, and at the end of the year, if he focuses on his actions and his systems, the outcomes will be there.

So I’ve developed a similar system…

While I do record goals every month, quarter, and year, the majority of what I’m focused on these days are my actions, not outcomes.

Ensuring I get up and get to work by 7:30AM every weekday…

Remaining compliant with my work schedule and division of hours into different key areas (ads alliance work, client work, new client outreach, studying new materials for a few hours each week, etc…)

Sending emails out every day…

Taking action to implement strategies to grow my list…

And so forth.

While I’m conscious of my target numbers, 90% of my mental energy goes towards focusing on my actions and my systems.

The rest, takes care of itself.

It’s a much better way to operate, more fun, less stress, and so far, my results have improved.

This is what I teach in Ads Alliance as well.

There’s a section on goal setting, you mark them down, great, but everything else is about the actions and the systems.

So that’s that.


About the Author

Over the past 6 years I’ve built dozens of websites, managed close to $1M in online ads, and helped shape the online marketing strategies of hundreds of small businesses.