People often get confused between goals and systems. If you have goals, you read about how what you really need to get where you want to go is a system. If you have a system, you read about how what you really need are some specific, measurable goals.
The trick that nobody talks about is that what you actually need is both. Setting specific goals that you can check off and feel accomplished by completing is important, and once you have the goal, you have to build a plan to get there, that’s the system.
The piece that people get wrong is when they set the goal, it may be measurable, specific, etc., but it isn’t what they actually want. Setting a goal to run a certain amount of miles in a certain time or make a certain amount of money might sound like what you want, but lots of times it isn’t. And if your goal isn’t really what you want to do, you aren’t going to stick with the system.
In my experience, when it comes to goals (and excellence in general), there are four kinds of people. Those who do ‘it’, those who want ‘it’, those who want to want ‘it’, and everybody else. Surrounding yourself with people who know what they want and then just do what it takes to get there is the ideal. But those people are rare. People who want it can, with the right tools and resources, become people who do it. The most dangerous group isn’t everybody else, they are obviously not who you want to be with. The most dangerous group is those who want to want it. It can be easy to confuse them with people who actually want it — for years at a time. But they don’t want it, they might think they are supposed to want it, and trap themselves into pretending they want it until their whole self-image is as somebody who wants it.