The systems and habits approach to reaching goals has many advantages. But if you rely on this approach make sure to understand its limitations.
Because the focus is on slow incremental improvement, some areas could turn catastrophic with any slip up. These are times when even one mistake could mean failure.
This could be a goal to stop drinking and driving. Even one time behind the wheel while intoxicated could mean legal troubles, serious injury or death.
This could be to avoid heavy drug use. Any serious drug could result in devastating consequences from even one use.
But the systems and habits approach can account for this as well by addressing commitment. In these instances the goal should be to get to 100% commitment as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, if we stay around 99% committed we still open the door for potential failure.
There is a chapter in Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles that says, “100% is a breeze and 99% is a bitch.”
To me this is extremely valuable. If we are 99% committed to our diet we may take a look at the unhealthy items on a menu or keep snacks in the house “just in case.” By leaving that 1% open we make it more difficult to keep to our goal.
If we are 99% committed to our spouse we may flirt or put ourselves in a bad situation and hope that we can overcome the urge to cheat. But if we are 100% committed we don’t even put ourselves in that difficult situation.
Most people are 100% committed to not do drugs. Most of us won’t even put ourselves in a situation where we are confronted with the opportunity to do drugs. But once someone becomes addicted it is extremely difficult to get back to that 100%.
So if you are faced with a goal where one slip up could mean total failure, then shift your focus to be on staying 100% committed.
Instead of having a few beers and hoping you don’t drink too much to drive, make preparations to make sure you don’t force yourself to make an immediate, difficult choice. The likelihood of driving home from the bar diminishes if you don’t have a car there to drive and already planned an Uber or cab ride home.
The court system has known this for years. But instead of relying on the person’s commitment they use technology to control someone’s behavior. They may install a Breathalyzer in his or her car, which will restrict the car from starting if there is any alcohol on the person’s breath.
The difficulty is that switching from 99% to 100% usually means working to change our behaviors over time. It means a focus on doing the right thing over and over until it becomes habit. Initially you may need to plan ahead to determine how you will stay committed but over time as your new behaviors form patterns and turn into habits, you will find it much easier to say 100% committed to your goal. Adding 1% could be the key to staying committed to even the most difficult goals.