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Stop setting goals for your pharmacy. Do this instead

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

- James Clear

We were pushed to set goals as kids. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you think you can achieve on the exam? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

So, what's the problem with goal-setting?

There is a significant problem with this setup. We are limited in our vision of ourselves along the path to improvement. We cannot truly imagine how capable we can be from our current vantage point.

Case study:

At the beginning of this triathlon season, I set a goal of finally breaking the 1 hour 30 minute finish time barrier. I based the goal on a very educated analysis of past finish times, ramping up with a better training plan and getting better over 4 races throughout the summer.

The result:

Way better than I ever imagined.

Multiple top 10 finishes in my age group and a silver medal at the Bracebridge race put on by Multisport Canada!

Why the gap?

I was limiting myself in my true capability, seeing myself in my previous fitness, training, sleeping and eating patterns of one year ago.

What changed after setting my goal one year ago that I couldn’t predict?

I met my neighbour Rob, who pushed me as a training partner. Also, because I was introducing him to the sport, it forced me to explain the basics, gear, technique, strategy and training in all 3 sports. If I was going to teach anything, I'd better know it and be an example of it.

With each race we got faster, so I ramped up the training plan for the next race based on where we could improve. That training plan served like compound interest, earning us more each race instead of simple interest that gets charged just once at the end of the season.

As the season progressed, I won a silver medal and had a chance to qualify for Team Canada at the World Championships next summer. All of this would never even have been a thought one year ago, but of course that led to deeper research about race strategy and a membership in Triathlon Ontario to register for an extra race.

The goal was based on a snapshot of what I thought was reasonable at the time, but I was on a steep learning curve that I didn’t realize. Turns out setting the goal was a waste of time because my best race came in at 1:21!

Lesson learned? Use great systems and clear identity to navigate where life takes you instead of setting biased snapshot goals that limit success.


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