Goals are fine, but you do need a solid system

Goals are fine, but you do need a solid system

In my house the tap water isn’t great, so the first solution I came to was a water filter, which helped.

Then came the infamous day when the light showed that the filter was headed toward its last leg. So I went on Amazon and searched for a replacement, and the first one that popped up was an off-brand one but supposedly compatible, so I bought it. Thanks to Prime, the filter arrived in two days, and I replaced it, but the light still showed the filter was barely working, so I sent it back because I thought it was defective.

Finally, the filter stopped working altogether, so I got an on-brand filter this time, and the light showed it wasn’t working either. I hopped on the ever-helpful YouTube, and it turns out I must press a switch inside the filter housing to reset the light. That’s it. There wasn’t a faulty off-brand filter. Everything was working perfectly; there was just a faulty user. It reminded me I can do everything correctly financially, but one missing or “faulty” part of our system can bring down a plan that is 90% correct.

James Clear wrote in his book, “Atomic Habits,” that “goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” I talk about goal-setting all the time — saving up for a new house, a new car, a bathroom remodel or the newest video game system — but the result you’re getting right now is coming from the systems you have in place right now.

You keep saying you want to pay for your next car in cash, but the goal seems to be consistently outrunning you month after month. You know you’re saving 20% of every single paycheck, cutting down the money you spend on eating out and working on the side, but the goal seems unattainable. Then there’s the “but” after all these good parts of the system, but you find yourself online looking at things you don’t really need and end up buying it and putting all that hard work of saving and cutting back to waste.

If you don’t have a faulty system, that’s great, but take a deep look into why you’re not reaching your financial goals. I know in the past I wanted to lose weight, and I was running and working out — those things normally help a person lose weight — but I was eating as if I wanted to get on the Browns offensive line and I needed to bulk up. The doughnuts at the office were never passed up, and vegetables were eaten sparingly. I was doing what I thought was OK, but my workouts couldn’t outrun my diet.

The system I had in place was broken, and I purposely turned a blind eye because my love for food outweighed — no pun intended — my goal of losing weight. Finally, when I stepped on the scale, there was no blind eye anymore because I faced stark reality.

It’s time to face that reality because just setting a goal will not get you anywhere. It is the system you put in place that will move you forward. If you think of the definition of system, it is “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network.” You can’t just save on cutting back on utilities but blow money constantly on clothes because they are both part of that interconnecting network, and when two parts of your saving plan to reach your goal are working against each other, the goal will stay out of reach.

Take time to do a quick audit on yourself and see if one part is moving the opposite way of another part and fix it. Then work on that and start crushing your goals.

Holmes County native BJ Yoder is an insurance agent by day and a finance enthusiast by night. This column is for informational purposes only. He can be emailed at benjamin.john.yoder@gmail.com.