The biggest benefit that I have found from using the systems and habits approach to improvement is that everything starts to align. Prior to using these techniques it seemed like some areas were improving while others were deteriorating.
This is the norm for most of us. I would start exercising but then would eat more than normal and after a few days I would quit exercising but keep eating the larger quantity!
Or I would join a gym and start exercising but the added monthly cost would mean I wasn’t paying off my credit card debt. The financial strain would create stress in my life, which hurt my ability to get healthy.
I have seen this quite often in organizations as well. Focusing on short-term sales, the company would discount their product drastically but then couldn’t seem to justify the higher price to consumers when they ultimately had to raise it. Or a project to improve an IT system would end with an expensive system that only uses a small percentage of its capability because they couldn’t seem to keep moving the project forward.
But when we rely on slowly and systematically improving by addressing the underlying systems and habits we create an environment where we have lasting change. When done right we start to have alignment in various areas of our lives.
I noticed this when I was younger and quit smoking. It took a lot of failed attempts but when I finally quit for good I was also exercising, eating right, budgeting my money and working towards an MBA. It seemed like I couldn’t quit until I had alignment with all of these other areas of my life.
The systems and habits approach also provides insight whenever we start to get out of alignment. We start to realize the solid habit of making a healthy lunch turns into fast food fixes. Or we start to feel extra financial pressure from straying from budget results in additional stress, which can make it harder to stay on-track in other areas.
To me this is the importance of working on the underlying systems and habits in our lives to improve. It is much more holistic than a quick fix and focuses on slowly improving over time. It shifts the focus to making progress and on the repetitive aspects of our lives. Then we can make adjustments to these repetitive behaviors until we craft optimal behaviors.
Alignment in life is possible if you work systematically to improve areas of your life. If you avoid the quick fix and focus your energy on changing the routine and repetitive behaviors, you can start to make progress towards your goals and reach the level of success you desire.