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Why Decoupling From Goals May Lead to Faster Results

The problem is that when it comes to our relationship with goals, targets can feel so far away it can be hard to see daily progress

My two-year-old defiantly grabbed my phone out of my hands, placed it face down on the coffee table and boldly commanded, “Phone down. Mama, look at me.”

I froze.

We’ve all seen the familiar trope in movies where a working parent, usually the father, is so absorbed in their work that a void starts growing within the family. A major conflict arises and then we arrive at the same ending every time – the father comes to an epiphany that family matters most.

At that exact moment, I was living that familiar scene.

I had always been goal driven. I graduated valedictorian of my class. I became the first person in my family to go to college. I earned six figures in my first ever job. I rose to a dream leadership role in healthcare early in my career. By my mid-twenties, I bought a home, paid for my own wedding, and traveled all over the world. I launched two businesses on the side while still having time to regularly go on dates with my husband, take dance classes multiple times a week, and squeeze in an occasional nap.

When people ask me how I’m able to do it all, I often point to one thing I’ve learned over the years: staying fully present in the moment. It’s how I can show up as my best self, focus on giving value, and then feel whole when I move on to the next thing.

However, this tiny person who entered the center of my universe made it clear with one small motion that my priorities at that particular moment were out of sync.

Admittedly, I was working on a funnel for my college admissions and career consulting business when he snatched the phone away from me.

Instead of being angry, I felt immense guilt. Not because mothers shouldn’t have interests and passions outside of raising their kids (they should!), but because I assumed he was too little to notice I was on my phone and only half paying attention to him.

He definitely noticed.

I took a moment to observe the situation, orient myself to what my priorities are, and decided to give my child my full focus. We played together for ten minutes and when his love tank was full, he decided to play independently, giving me a chance to resume building my email funnel.

Having simple rules for my life like staying fully present in the moment has served as my guardrails for how I live my everyday life and stay in alignment with my goals.

I’m no stranger to the traditional development and management of goals. I’ve led goal development, tracking, and execution for years at a multi-billion dollar company.

The problem is that when it comes to our relationship with goals, targets can feel so far away it can be hard to see daily progress.

Counter-intuitively, what impacts our day to day to reach personal and professional excellence isn’t looking at a scorecard or a playbook, but rather the system (or lack thereof) we set up for ourselves to support our success.

To create a system that ensures goals will be achieved, the first step is to decouple from all goals.

Break up with them.

For goal-oriented, highly successful people, this can feel unnatural and perhaps even stressful. But, if we took an honest look at our goals for the past three years, how many of them are recycled year over year? What percentage of goals have actually been achieved?

While goals are important, 80% of success comes from how an individual lives their life everyday. The system a person sets up informs habits and influences the decisions that are made everyday.

It is important to give ourselves the mental space and clarity to focus on designing a system that works best for ourselves at the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can give us insight into whether we are living optimally everyday.

When thinking about the systems by which we live our lives, it’s helpful to ask ourselves these questions:

  • Did I intentionally design my system?

  • Am I in control of my system or is it heavily influenced by outside forces like friends, family, or my job?

  • Does my system have a purpose?

  • Am I mindful about my system’s performance?

  • Do I have a feedback loop so I can tell if my system is working?

  • Do I know when my system is working optimally?

Once we have these answers, we can better understand what actions we should be taking on a daily basis to live the type of life we want to live.

That’s where simple rules come in.

Rather than putting together a SMART goal (SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.) about how I want to measure the success of my interactions with others, my simple rule is “be fully present.”

That’s it.

Another simple rule I have is to learn everyday. One way I do that is to listen to business podcasts while cooking, cleaning, or commuting.

To formulate your own simple rules to live by, take a moment to visualize what your optimal life would look like. You can choose any dimension: career, business, relationships, health, spirituality, etc. How would you feel? What would you be doing each day?

Now, think about what easy action you can take each day to get you closer to that vision?

Our relationships with goals can be complex. Building daily habits through a personalized system for success that’s easy to follow can help make those goals much more achievable.


This article is part of our RELATE special edition of SOULACY. To read more articles focused on the relationships with have in our lives and businesses, head to to buy your copy today.

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