"Forget about goals; focus on systems instead."
— James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
We, as hunters, have goals. Your goal may be to hunt a new state, to hunt a new species, or to harvest a buck or bull bigger than you have before. For some of us, we're just trying to fill the first tag on an animal that has outwitted in years past.
Luck will always play some role in hunting. Sometimes, Lady Luck is the start of the show. But she is a fickle lady, and you cannot count on her to come through. The only thing you can rely on is yourself — your skills, your knowledge, your abilities, and your determination.
Finding success in the backcountry starts by creating success at home. You need more than a vision for success; you need a system that will get you there.
"Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress," says James Clear in Atomic Habits.
Commitment to the process will determine your progress.
Do you have a system in place for achieving your hunting goals?
If you're anything like me, you have good goals and you have good intentions, but you don't always have good results. That's because good goals and good intentions are not enough. We need a well-defined system that moves us from where we are to where we want to be.
Oh no, not another thing to do!
I know. Your schedule is already full. You have too many things you HAVE to do, and rarely have time for the things you WANT to do. I get it. Trust me, I do.
But how can you expect to achieve your goals if you're not willing to consistently and intentionally work towards them? Again, a good goal isn't enough; you need a system to get you there. You need to commit to a process that will result in progress.
So how can you establish and commit to a process when you already struggle to find time in your day?
Create small habits and systematically commit to doing them.
If your goal is to fill your elk tag this September, you should be shooting your bow, practicing your calls, getting in shape, and increasing your knowledge about elk behavior and about the area you will be hunting
These are the activities that will define your system. By focusing on these activities, you are focusing on what you can control, and putting yourself on the trajectory to reach your goal.
Now that you have a system, you need to fully commit. I can't tell you how many days I have said to myself, "I should practice my elk calls today." But then the day gets busy and I never touch a call. "I'll get to it tomorrow," I say. But tomorrow is just as busy as today was. Two weeks go by and my calling hasn't improved.
Here's the solution.
We created a simple Hunting Habit Tracker (PDF) for you to intentionally define your system for success and ensure that you are consistently following the program.
List the top 3-7 activities that define your system for success, determine how frequently you should do these things (every day, 5 times a week, etc), and keep yourself accountable by checking off how many times you are completing the activities.
(Note: We added more lines to the habit tracker worksheet so that you can add other personal habits that you want to track.)
Don't make this mistake.
Absolutely, positively do NOT list too many things or make each activity too difficult to complete. For example, do not make a goal to shoot your bow for an hour every day. Instead, make your goal shoot 3 arrows every day. It is fine if you shoot more than 3 arrows on some days, but the foundational goal needs to be something you can do consistently.
"Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them." —James Clear
Get started today. Don't wait for the perfect time; there is no such thing. Progress today is better than perfection someday.
As you complete your #HuntingHabits, snap a photo, and share it on Instagram (tag #HuntingHabits) or email us (photos@exomtngear).
Now get to work...
Mark Huelsing is the host of the Hunt Backcountry Podcast and works at Exo Mtn Gear — though he's never been able to figure out his job title. Connect with Mark by sending him an email (mark at exomtngear.com) or connecting on Instagram, @MarkTheFark.