A long and joyous journey through far and distant lands

August 10, 2020

If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.

~ James Clear, Atomic Habits

This is such a contradiction to so much I’ve read from just about every achievement-related book, article, or blog post. It is constantly beat into our heads: you must set goals!! You must have a vision!! You must set your mission!! And to some extent, I still do believe that.

Problem is, I find goal setting is very hard. Mostly because I can never fully convince myself that the goal is the right goal.

For example, if I set a weekly trading profits target of $5000, or a monthly net return goal of 5%, I can never be satisfied that these were the right targets. If I can do $5000 a week, why not $7500? Or, why is 5% the magic monthly return number? Why not 8%?

And then I beat myself up about either not having more confidence to go for the bigger targets, or I shame myself for thinking too small. It seems I can never win this battle within my own psyche.

This is why Mr. Clear’s advice above about focusing on the system really hits home with me.

I respond a lot better to aiming my focus in the right direction and leaving the destination open-ended. I’m a believer that the journey is often more rewarding than the destination. And so marshaling my resources such that I’m shoveling coal into the engine to keep it going full steam ahead in the right direction means I’ll get the opportunity to enjoy a long and joyous journey through far and distant lands — many that might be unimaginable to me to now. If I’d just set my cross-country sights on Des Moines, Iowa (I’m sure it’s a fine town), I might never have discovered the wonder and amazement of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierras, and the Northern California coastline.

I suppose this is why I expend so much energy constantly tweaking, fine-tuning, and rebuilding trading strategies — this is the journey that moves me forward in the right direction.