2022: Systems VS. Goals

2022: Systems VS. Goals

“Success is not about achieving goals but it’s about forming systems.”

Tim Ferris

I use the app Blinkist as part of my personal growth plan. The app summarizes the content of books and then presents this in audio and written forms (about 15 minutes in audio length per book). I like to listen to five to ten minutes of these book reviews on various topics such as personal growth, psychology, productivity, time management, leadership, communication, biographies, and more.

This past week I was listening to a book by Tim Farris called The Tools of Titans, and this quote really stood out to me: “Success is not about achieving goals but it’s about forming systems.” He goes on further to quote Scott Adams, “Losers have goals. Winners have systems.” As I listened to this, I realized I have structured my life and business to focus more on systems than achieving specific goals. As I have done this, goals automatically get done. Tim Farris put language to what I already believed.

To illustrate this, I’d like to share part of a devotional from my book Victorious Mindsets called “I Put Things in My Path to Bump Into”.

It isn’t unusual to see on a golf course, next to a green, a golf club left behind by a previous golfer. I have done it and most other golfers have, too. It usually happens when the player leaves his golf bag (or golf cart) on the path to the next hole and then takes two clubs toward the green (usually a pitching wedge to hit onto the green and a putter to finish the hole). Before putting, the wedge is put on the ground and can easily be forgotten (unless the golfer either has a good memory or a good plan). My plan for remembering my pitching wedge is to place it intentionally on the ground between the green and my golf bag. I put it in a place where I will “bump into” it so I won’t forget it. This strategy has worked very well for me in golf and illustrates a powerful lesson for us in life and ministry.

Here’s are five systems I have developed which I regular “bump into” which have caused me to experience what I never thought I would experience:  

    1. Belief Systems – I bump into the right beliefs through making declarations, regularly feeding myself on faith and hope teachings, having a team around me who understand the power of beliefs, writing a blog each week on beliefs, and by not trusting any belief in my life that does not have hope.
    2. Personal Habit Systems – Successful people put into their schedule the important but not urgent things of life. Whether it’s daily writing or taking specific steps to remain healthy, I bump into commitments I have made and hold myself accountable to continue to move forward in them. I have a system of paying one of my assistants $3 for each daily or weekly goal I do meet. 
    3. Projects Systems – I have written sixteen books, traveled extensively, founded Igniting Hope Ministries and Academy, developed many leaders, and served as a staff member of a thriving church. I have only been able to do all of this by having a system of regular scheduled meetings with team members to bump into to do what I often don’t feel like doing. 
  • Developing People Systems – “My goal is not to build a big church but to build big people” – Bill Johnson. I have an intentional plan to develop the writing, speaking, leadership, and people skills of those I influence. This is discussed in my books The Culture of Empowerment and The Culture of Empowerment: Business and Organization Version.
  1. The System of Deadlines – I started writing by having a deadline to bump into for a weekly newspaper article I wrote in Nevada in the 1990’s. I committed to doing it, and that helped me build the muscle of meeting deadlines for other things.

As we consider 2022, should our new year’s plan for improvement be focused on setting goals or developing systems?  I am convinced creating great systems is to be our priority because it will be the vehicle that causes goals to be achieved.   

To understand the heart behind these systems (and to hear more examples), please listen to this week’s podcast on the subject below. I have had to grow into these systems (and I’m still growing). In this journey I have celebrated progress, not perfection. I truly believe systems are indeed more important than being focused on achieving goals, and I believe it is a key for us reach our potential in 2022.

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

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