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Don’t focus on the Goal! Part 1 of 2

PART 1 of 2. By IPC’s Helen Doick

It was this time last year in 2020 when lockdown sparked not only the obsession of ABC news circulating my screens 24/7 but a fresh wave of goal searching and a personal reassessment. What are my exercise plans and goals (from the garage now the gym is closed)? Shall I embark on a 12-week fitness deadline? Build a Chicken Coop and educate myself on ‘bird management’ (that was never going to happen) by June? I gave myself eight weeks to strip processed foods and carbs from my diet (easier). Read the backlog of ‘The Economist’ on my bedside by July. Use that bloody awful foam roller to massage my quad muscles every day for a week. Clean up image files and hard drives by tomorrow. I was setting myself many goals, maybe a way to stay focussed amongst the new mania outside the front door. However, the list of targets grew, and eventually, IPC became a hot destination for this ambition, with a few strict and deadline-dated goals being thrown around for appealing and forward-thinking growth.

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I certainly identify as a person who continually looks at change and development, especially for the production company I run with Sam Allison. Business evolution for me has always been a top priority and am a strong supporter for modifying strategy as our market shifts. I also do like trying less treaded exploits, as am a believer that “opportunity only comes from risk”. But this new thirst for adding piles of goals to compensate for a lack in production industry activity was definitely (in hindsight) going to weigh heavily.

It was then I discovered James Clear’s book: ‘Atomic Habits’. And what a discovery this was. Reading this book, along with his empowering and practical insta account with snippets of wisdom, (move over Facebook memes with their images of Labradors and burning candles!) taught me some fundamental lessons about Habits and Goals. James has studied habits for years and how they link to everything we are looking to action, change and achieve in life. From losing weight to being an Entrepreneur, he has clarified in this book how the structure of habits, their systems, and environments all make up the success or failure of goals. James clearly identifies that having the focus only on the goal will inevitably fail, not addressing your systems within the habit and in turn making changes required within your strategy, is the only way to achieve the goal.


Quote James: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

He discussed adding many small actions towards the goal rather than a single huge stride, which often becomes too hard to maintain (smashing it out for hours in the gym and only lasting a week, rather than less often strategy). His story of the stonemason who taps a hundred small taps to break the stone, not one large crack that would never break the stone or give up before the 100th hit, etc. Oh gosh, I love an analogy!! But, the greatest practical lesson I took from his book that I looked to and continue to inject into the development of IPC is his notion of ‘reducing friction’. Taking away what makes the journey difficult will encourage you to create new and stick to habits and in turn reach goals/success. By changing the process of how you do something and reduce the friction to do it, will inventibly get you to the goal easier, leaner and quicker…and doesn’t this sound like a production dream. Not only that but surely that is exactly what clients are looking for at this time. Less friction. As time and money get less, the friction on jobs rises. So instead the idea of reducing friction seems the logical way to improve the process for achieving the goal, even though the natural response would be to default and lean to the friction (possibly the easiest response). So how did we look to remove friction in the world of making ads? Developing an even better process than was already in place with the style of the model we launched a few years ago? Well of course as James suggests, it’s the innumerable small steps in change taken over time. I will talk about small steps and success in part 2 and share some of James’ stories of evidence in taking a 1% step towards building better systems. For more info on James ( I’m seemingly spruiking him as a die hard fan ) head to: https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits

To end, here are some of James’ wise quotes. I’m sure my husband will wince when he reads this, but I know my trusty IPC partner in crime Sam agrees that there’s nothing like a positive quote to start your day. So I’ll sign off with a few citations I took from James and have been applying to life and business…

“If you work inspiration will come if you wait inspiration will too”.

 “The best way of building a habit is making it part of your identity”.

“Make it easy to start: Habits are the entry point – not the goal”.

“Stick to the plan: “Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way.”

“Build a System for getting 1% better every day”.

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