Goals are not the answer

Strategies + Ability = Results

S + A= R

I wrote something similar to this a few years ago, but it never gets old. As a teenager I was told that the best way to achieve something was to actually have something written down: Goals. Tangible, stuck on your wall, things to achieve. However, is this the best way to go about attaining the results you want? We all have things that we want to achieve in the short, medium and long term in our lives – building a business, starting a family, writing a novel, getting that six pack…….

Of course we need to have results/goals/objectives in mind to give us something to aim towards. For years I set goals based on the above, play rugby for Australia, get 25 clients per week, the weights I wanted to lift in the gym etc. 

However, I have come to realise that when you want to achieve something, when you need to progress, when you need to get things done, there is a more effective way to reach your goals. 

And it has to do with strategies.

Goals Vs Strategies: The difference in a nutshell


     If you are a coach your goal is to win a title. Your strategy is what you do to prepare to get there, your team training sessions for the season.

     If you are a writer (or aspiring writer….) your goal is to write a novel.  To get that novel finished you to have a writing strategy; i.e.: 500 words per week for three years.

     If you are in a corporate job your goal is likely to become a manager/CEO. To attain this position you need to have a strategy; do an MBA, get a diverse range of experience in the company, get a mentor, sleep your way you the top…(joking)

     If you are a fitness enthusiast your goal might be to be stronger at 35 than you were at 25, have that six-pack, bench 150KG. It is the strategies that you put in place that will get you there. Get a training program, get a new dietary lifestyle, do conjugative lifting and spend time under the bar.


The above points beg the question: If you ignored your goals and focussed only on your systems, would you still get the results you desired?

If you stopped thinking about getting a six-pack and instead focussed on the strategy of eating well at every meal and training hard each day, would you get the results you wanted? I would propose that, yes, indeed, you would.

As an example, I have always wanted to write a novel, it has been a life goal of mine since I can remember. But it has always (still does) seemed like an insurmountable task. However, if I add up all the words from my history Honours thesis course, I wrote about 50,000 words in 18 months. Add that to my undergraduate history courses and I have written about 90,000 words – the length of an average novel. I was able to achieve that many words in two and a half years because I had a strategy forced on me by university. I had to write 5,000-10,000 words per subject; spread over 3 assignments per subject; with 4 subjects per semester; and 2 semesters per year etc.

Why I need to focus on systems and not goals: Do You?

1: Goals make you unhappy. 

Check this out: https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/goals-mental-health-brain-habits/

I still haven’t written that book. That pisses me off every day. When you have a goal you are in essence saying that you are far from where you want to be in life, almost as if, your life, is at present not good enough.

Committing to a strategy, removes the unnecessary burden of a goal, the pretext that life is not good enough at the moment, but will be, as soon as I am go enough to reach my goal. Focussing on a strategy, means that I think about my next meal, my next training session, I enjoy the moment, live in the moment, and learn from the moment.

 2: Goals do not initiate long-term progress.

Goals will motivate you over the long term, I was told as a teenager.

Fitness is not a temporary choice. People will often set themselves the goal of losing 10 kilograms. They achieve this, and then with the goal attained they no longer have that goal to aspire to. As such they have to create new goals, and then new goals, always aspiring to something further on, never happy with the present. This creates a Yo-yo effect. With 10 kilograms lost, they let the diet go a bit, get back on the chocolate/alcohol/(insert weak point….) put a bit of weight back on, reset goals, cut out any cheat foods, set goal, lose weight, etc.

With choices based on a strategy of living well, being fit, moderate in their excesses, it never becomes about a number, it is about sticking to the process, eating well consistently, training consistently. In the end the strategies and processes will deliver results, not long term goals.

3: Control what you can.

Unfortunately you can’t predict or determine the future. When we set a goal, this is essentially what we are trying to do, In 3 years I will be manager; In 6 months I want 25 clients per week; In 12 weeks I want to lose 10 kilograms.

Instead, follow the strategies, study the MBA, get a range of diverse experiences within your workplace etc. Goals can’t be controlled, Control what you can – strategies


I am not advocating that all goals are useless, but rather instead focus on what you can control, what you can implement and the steps that will deliver you the results you want. The above is all about the ‘S’ in S + A = R. Next week, we will chat about A, Abilities.

Until then, get your mobility and conditioning strategy on track with virtual PrimalThenics: