Goal Setting Is Dead. Here’s What You Should Be Doing…

Want to lose 10lbs of body fat?

There’s a system for that.

Want a $10,000/month Freedom Business?

There’s also a system for that.

When you start moving from a GOAL mindset to a SYSTEM mindset, you start to realise the real keys to the personal peace of mind and happiness you’ve been looking for are NOT tied up in the endless cycle of trying to achieve goals.

“Goals reduce your current happiness”
– James Clear

Chances are you have a goal or a series of goals that you want to achieve right now… and when you get these goals you will be happy forever… right?

Personally, I used to forever be caught up in the endless hamster wheel of setting really high goals and aggressively pursuing them, then feeling deflated when I actually DO get the goal (not to mention the outright soul destroying actions and days leading up to actually achieving the goal).

I’ve slogged through gruelling workouts and eating never ending chicken and broccoli to shred the body fat and get abs: CHECK. Now what?

I’ve slogged through days and days (and nights) of endless work on a laptop to launch new businesses: CHECK. Now what?

As I talk about briefly in the video above… when you set a goal, you immediately decrease your personal happiness as you see the mountain in front of you that you have to climb to get there and you won’t be TRULY happy until you get that goal.

The problem with setting goals is that as soon as you set a new one: it actually DECREASES your happiness RIGHT NOW.

Which leads to demotivation to actually do anything about it.

So what’s the alternative?

How do you stay happy, motivated and excited about life when what you want isn’t here yet?

The glorious answer: SYSTEMS.

Let’s zoom out for a second.

When you think about it…

The world and everything in it is simply a group of systems all working together to produce outcomes.

Your body itself has a series of systems that automatically work together to keep you running (the respiratory system, the nervous system, the heart, the lungs, the skin, the brain)… all of those are beautiful systems that produce outcomes (keep you alive).

Now a system is simply a closed group of checklists.

Now when we talk about something like losing 10lbs, for example… the system could be called “fat loss”.

To lose fat (as proven by science)… you have to consume less calories than you burn.

That’s the system.

The checklist would look like this:

  1. Determine how many calories you need each day for your age, current weight and height
  2. Determine a daily menu based on reducing these calories whilst maintaining energy levels and overall health
  3. Determine an exercise plan
  4. Prepare and eat the exact pre-determined meals each day
  5. Follow the exercise plan

– Repeat steps 4 & 5 until desired goal is reached.

So now we’ve defined the goal (lose 10lbs) but instead of stopping there, we’ve defined the SYSTEM that will produce that goal.

Here’s the critical part: Now you need to decide where YOU fit in the system.
And the fun part: YOU don’t have to be the one to physically to do it all!

In the above example you may not be an expert in the “determine how many calories” or “determine a menu” or “determine an exercise plan”…

This is where it gets really cool.

You have 2 options:

  1. You can OUTSOURCE these part to experts to do the work for you (fastest and generally best results) OR
  2. You can search online for the information you need

In this particular system I would outsource EVERYTHING apart from the actual eating of the food, and doing the work in the gym.

Unfortunately reality dictates that you have to do these things. Believe me, if I could outsource the actual lifting weights side of things, I would.

Everything else outsourced.


Now let’s now apply this to a Freedom Business.

In our yearly training program over at Freedom Studios called Secret Society Mastermind, we teach people how to build an online business that funds a life of freedom, fun and adventure.

That’s the system we teach: Online Business
The goal of the system: $10,000/mo and time freedom.

This goal changes depending on your level… but this is a good beginner goal to shoot for as most people could live very well, in any location they choose, for $10,000/mo.

So for an example of the actual system let’s take a look at the one I mentioned in the above video: James Clear’s business (which inspired this article).

The particular online business vehicle he has chosen is Information Products (something we also have a module inside our training on).

Info products are great because you produce valuable content ONCE then can sell it for an unlimited amount of times.

The online system will automatically take orders and deliver the product without you having to physically be there, deliver any product or even talk to a customer.

An example of the CHECKLIST for this system would be this:
Note that there would be a sub-checklist for each of these items. I’m giving you the “zoom out” view.

  1. Determine valuable content that people would pay for
  2. Produce initial content
  3. Build website + blog + email list capture system
  4. Drive traffic
  5. Produce paid content
  6. Launch and sell content to email list

Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 monthly until you hit goal. Then repeat to maintain.

Now the beauty of this business is that every single component can be outsourced, which is the goal of this system ($10k/mo with full time freedom).

I think James writes his own content, because he’s really good at it and seems to enjoy it (I write all my own content too) – but even this can be outsourced.

So here’s the thing…

Before you go to do ANYTHING worthwhile…

Make sure you have defined:

  1. The overall SYSTEM and it’s goals
  2. The checklists within that system (to hit the goals)
  3. Your role in the system

Remember… YOU don’t have to be the one to do the checklist items.

In most cases it’s the inefficient way to go about it.

And the best part about thinking in SYSTEMS rather than GOALS is that EVERY SINGLE DAY you can feel like a winner as opposed to feeling uneasy or depressed until the goal is reached.

More on this stuff later. I love systems so much I could write a whole book on it.

Let me know in the comment section below if you wish to learn more on this…

Thanks to James Clear for his article.

Thanks to Atul Gawande for The Checklist Manifesto.

And special thanks to Sam Carpenter for his amazing book Work The System which has helped me achieve this mindset in life and business.

Music in video:
The League Vol.1 –
Space Kitchen – Josh Tweek –
Intermission Tape Vol.1 – disco burger –
Intermission Tape Vol.1 – sumthin gunny –

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  1. Peter


    Great article, Tim.

    It’s pretty whack to think about… our bodies, social interactions, biology, business, the cosmos… all are composed of parts that interact with each other in observable patterns… creating a system. And understanding the systems empower us to utilize them to the fullest. Pretty crazy.

  2. Charlie


    Tim, another great video with some great advice! But you know what I (and I’m sure others) really want to know, is what month the SSM trips usually happen/when this years will be happening! I’m in the process of planning an extended adventure and if the SSM trip is during the time I’m away, I won’t be able to come! ?

    • Timothy Marc


      Hey Charlie… Tentative date for the next SSM trip/adventure is May next year for the next intake of applicants. All the dates and info will be revealed in the next 3 weeks… It’s really important we plan and get things right. I’m a fanatic for details and professionalism 😉

  3. Gun Hudson


    Loving the weekly videos – very cool style 🙂

    • Timothy Marc


      Thanks Gun man!

  4. Damian Sweet


    Hey Tim,
    I love the idea of focusing on the system as apposed to just the goal. Wanting something really bad, (usually my goals) gives me a desperate feeling. By giving my attention to the system and the checklist, it not only keeps my mind distracted but it keeps my body busy. It’s an awesome concept. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Rodrigo Flamenco


    Nice blog post as always Tim 😀 just finished watching the module on Aweber integrations, I think I might use it this coming week.

    For all the guys who have more questions on how’s the ssm course I have a review here:


    See ya 😉

    • Timothy Marc


      Epic review thanks Rodrigo 😉

  6. Doug Weir


    Looking forward to that epic blog post on systems. In the meantime, thanks for the tip on James Clear. This really resonates with my hard won lessons in engineering. You need systems to succeed. From weight loss to muscle gain to hiring people to making a manufacturing process work to building the best quality product that people will buy to delivering product to your customers on time. Systems rule. Also checklists. Thousands of engineers at NASA can’t be wrong.

    • Timothy Marc


      So true Doug. Naturally I think I have more of a creative brain… but since exercising my logical/systems mindset i’ve found myself a lot happier and having much better results in the real world.

  7. callan


    Its like the rose tinted glasses have come off . Everything you said was so true . Too many people make a goal with only the end product in site, not what they need to achieve before reaching their goal . Definitely something in going to put in place to better myself. Thanks man

    • Timothy Marc


      Cheers Callan i’m really happy it’s resonated with you

  8. Josh


    Hey Tim

    Great content, can’t really add more than what the others have said.

    I know in online marketing it changes very radically, how does a course offered once a year keep up to date with this?

    Also when you say $10K a month, is this profit? Or revenue?


    • Timothy Marc


      Hey Josh,

      The course is NOT pre-recorded from previous years. It’s done live with you over the program from here at Freedom Studios to ensure the most cutting edge material…

      The 10k/mo quoted is profit.


  9. Zara


    Hey Tim, thanks for a great article

    Just wondering in Australia the dollar is really poor atm so if I outsource online, won’t that cost me a lot of lost revenue?

  10. Jack


    Hey Tim

    QUALITY video!
    Cant really add more than Damian
    In Australia, graduates like me once in a job earn $50 – 80K a year. For me and my mates to do this course, we really need to see an aussie making that kind of cash through this course. This aussie dollar is shit atm and going down.
    10K a month is no good to me if I spent 8K on outsourcing a designer, copyrighter etc. Can you link me to one of the hundreds of dudes that makes 10K a month profit in Sydney or Melbourne. All I need is a ‘Yeah it works bro’ message and we.are.in.


  11. Thomas


    Great insight Tim! I was introduced to system based thinking in the books Lean Startup and Built to Sell but this is way more practical. Excited to start identifying my own systems. A system is a practical framework and action oriented while goals are just metrics used to measure the progress.

    Building and working according to systems and daily or weekly plans are also really good to focus on what matters, being more ‘present’ and make it easy for yourself; you basically only have to ‘worry’ about current things as future things are already accounted for in the system and plan. Out of sight, out of mind!

  12. Hannah


    Great observation. This is how I try to live. Live for today, not always waiting for that thing to reach or happen in the future. Experience the now and make it count! Yes, planning some things is important, as is ambition, but focus on what you are doing here and now, and enjoy it!

  13. Alex


    Great article!

  14. Isaac


    This is incredibly accurate. I find that once you enjoy the process through
    implementing the right system, you tend to hit your goals without even noticing it. It’s always the love of the grind that pays off.

    • Timothy Marc


      Thats it Isaac

  15. John


    Hey tim

    Thanks for the systems approach.
    I’m wondering with my web business how I outsource the sales process to get leads.
    I get the other bits but if I don’t have much capital how can I get passive leads going?

  16. Ben


    Hey Tim

    I am really liking this stuff. My question would be, how do you create an online following (community) feel for your business. Where do you get leads etc and where do the people commenting here, hear about you? I really need that for my business

  17. Benjamin Ulrich


    Almost a year after you published this post I was recommended reading your blog. Thank you Tim for opening my eyes.

    I am trally excited to read your epic blog post. Is it out yet? I missed the link above.

    It is really excitig what you are up to. Good lick with your team and community.

    Greetings from Switzerland



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