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Goals Are For Losers Among Other Things

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results came out recently, and boy, are people pissed off.

“Only 141 candidates managed to score a mean grade of A plain in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, a shocking drop from 2,636 candidates who attained the grade last year,” says this article

What changed between this year and last year?

Stricter controls on exam paper leakages.

In other news, parents of KCPE (primary) students are suing Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) and requesting retallying. 

Sounds like the US elections, doesn’t it?

The education system perfectly epitomizes outcome-based goals as grades are the obstacles that people need to jump over to progress to the next class.

So people get it wired in their minds, You must get the A, no matter what.

That leads to people cheating, bribing teachers, cutting corners…at least in our countries.

Similarly, people who care more about losing weight to look good for the wedding pictures end up doing things like going straight for gastric bypass surgery without trying exercise and eating healthy…

Do anything to lose weight.

The thing is, as much as outcome-based goals are inherently prevalent in our cultures, there are many reasons to replace them with system-based goals;

-Outcome-based goals are simply not fun to pursue. Because it’s binary, you either hit the goal or you don’t on any given day. So you spend the majority of your days miserable, and only once do you feel genuinely happy when (if) you hit the goal.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, writes about (process-based) systems vs (outcome-based) goals in his book, How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big, “To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.”

Since we’re more likely to outsource our self-worth, self-esteem and sense of confidence to the results we attain, then imagine how being in a continuous state of failure would make us feel?


-They’re not sustainable. Especially when you cut corners. The stories that don’t come out following previous KCSE results where students paid for leaked exam papers to get top grades are those of the same students getting accepted to top universities worldwide only to fail out during their freshman year.

However, when we focus more on the process, we’re more likely to maintain momentum because the focus is on gradual personal growth rather than hit-(the-goal)-and-run scenarios.

So how does this relate to real-life goals?

-If you’re trying to do well in school, focus on a system of continuous learning instead of the goal of getting an A.

-If you’re trying to be healthy, focus on a system of eating the right food and exercising instead of the goal of hitting a certain weight. For example, hitting the gym four times a week could be a system or a process-based goal.

-If you’re a writer, focus on a system of writing daily instead of the goal of publishing a book someday.

-If you’re in a career, focus on a system of taking on additional responsibilities, developing relationships, and improving your time management skills instead of the goal of earning a promotion.

I leave you with a tweetable quote by Yvon Choinard,“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” 

This post does not contradict the concept of SMARTY goals as long as those goals are process-based, not outcome-based.

If you like this post, support the work by pressing on the green heart and visiting my website to subscribe to the newsletter and like the facebook page;

Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast,” and the non-fiction book summarizing a lot of ideas in the personal development field if you want to change your life but don’t know where to start, “Mine your inner resources”.

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