Is the Secret to Being Happy Completely Forgetting About Your Goals?
Sounds relaxing, does't it?
I’m lucky to be in a book club with a lot of very thoughtful people who have brought some amazing reading material into my life. One book that we recently read is a book called “Atomic Habits,” which is honestly one I would’ve never picked up on my own because the front cover gave me the overwhelming impression that it was going to stress me out.
Like many people who get into audio editing and production, I have a tendency to struggle with perfectionism. This is something I’ve tried for years to unlearn because it’s the #1 thing standing between creative people and achieving the goal of actually finishing their projects.
This book about continual improvement seemed like it was going to send me into perfectionism overdrive, but once I picked it up and actually started reading it, it has actually been one of the most positive attitude adjustments I have gotten in a long time. Here’s my favorite life lesson so far:
Only Focusing On Your Goals is Misguided
One of the most important points that this book makes is that focusing on your goals is actually kind of misguided. What you should be focusing on instead if you want to actually make progress is your systems. What are the things you do every day, every week, and every month to get you closer to where you want to be? Have you actually taken the time to establish what those things are? Have you set aside regular time to do them? Or, are you so obsessively focused on the destination that you are not analyzing whether your journey is pointing you towards the right place?
Don’t Stare At The Scoreboard
This book makes the case that if you completely stop thinking about your goals and only focus on your systems, you would get where you want to go anyways. You would also probably get there faster, and definitely get their happier.
If we put away the measuring stick and just enjoy the process, we can rest easy. If our trajectory is correct, we can just leisurely coast on the slow build of our daily/monthly/yearly work without stress. We don’t constantly have to self-analyze because we already know that we’re pointed in the right direction.
This quote sums up the philosophy perfectly:
“Now for the interesting question: If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your systems, would you still succeed? For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get results? I think you would. The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard.”
Giving Zero F's Allows You To Enjoy The Work
I personally feel like I do vastly better work when I’m actually enjoying the work. Worrying about how the work will be This “set it and forget it” perspective is a pretty liberating one. Another great quote below:
“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.”
This is a great read for all writers, producers, and music industry personnel. In an industry defined by unpredictability, focusing on refining the small things you CAN control is a huge mental health win.