Information on systems thinking and how to use the systems and habits approach to improvement.
Systems are everywhere. Everything around us is part of numerous overlapping systems in life and everything that happens in our life can be explained through these systems.
Sometimes they are easy to see. We see the solar system, the various systems that regulate our body, the traffic systems in place to help us travel safely, and weather systems.
If you want to succeed, learn how to set bright-line rules. In legal terms, the bright-line rule is one that has a clear, objective definition. It isn’t vague or ambiguous.
When we try to improve some aspect of our life, we often do so with strategies that are not very clear. We want to get healthy so we say we will work out more and eat healthier food.
I was reading a book the other day called, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. The book talks about the latest research on willpower and how we can improve in this important area.
It is interesting to read about the connection between willpower and parenting in the chapter called, “Raising Strong Children.” The authors talk about the various elements required to properly discipline a child.
One of the benefits of using the systems and habits approach to improvement is that it avoids the licensing effect.
The Licensing effect (or self-licensing) is when you do something good and then use that to justify doing something bad afterwards. So if you get a great workout in and then immediately head to the donut shop to reward yourself you are self-licensing.
When I first stumbled upon the systems and habits approach to improvement I started to slowly put in place new tactics to improve. I started small and looked to consistently change certain behaviors.
My focus shifted from effort and quality to consistency and quantity. I made sure to do X every day, even though X wasn’t anything major.
One thing that gets misunderstood when it comes to personal improvement in life is the fact that habits are more important than doing a good deed.
When we want to improve, most people think in events. They think of a goal they have to achieve or a one-time change they have to make. They think about short-term changes just to reach the objective rather than permanent adjustments.
When it comes to systematic improvement, one element that is crucial is the ability to track your progress. You have to be able to see what is happening and know for certain what direction you are heading.
Are you improving or just going through the motions but remaining stagnant? How often are you keeping up with the action steps you designed?
I work in a very complex environment. I oversee the operations of a growing business and in doing so have to be aware of many different areas of the business.
There are technical aspects, logistical aspects, customer service aspects etc. I often go through my day with more and more tasks accumulating that need completed.
When you start to use the systems and habits approach to improvement what you are really doing is focusing on execution. You focus on how to improve.
While this may seem obvious, the benefits are incredible. Most people avoid execution and instead put their focus on everything but execution.
I heard a quote the other day from a friend. He didn’t recall who said it but he repeated it to me while we were having a conversation about self-improvement.
He said, “No one has the power over you unless you give it them, you are in control of your life and your choices decide your own fate.”
One of the things that I learned when I started using the systems and habits approach to improvement was that I couldn’t trust the words that I spoke. I couldn’t even trust my thoughts because too often they were misleading.
I told myself that I wanted be prosperous. But I wasn’t willing to work more for more money. I told myself that I wanted to be healthy but I didn’t eat healthy foods or exercise. I was constantly telling myself what I thought was true but often my actions didn’t follow along.
We all have the tools necessary to succeed in life. I see this time and time again through a disadvantaged individual who goes on to achieve great things. They often overcome their disability and then continue to rise.
They grow and improve. They don’t complain about their lot in life. They push past their limitations. In fact, they often push further than many non-disabled.
In systems thinking we often explore feedback loops. These are phenomenon where the output of a system goes back into the input of the system. These are everywhere.
It could be a system where we start to pour our glass of milk and stop at precisely the right time. Most people never think about this as a process or a system but if we do we can see the feedback loop structure present.
Life is unfair. It isn’t designed to have a very direct link between cause and effect. It incorporates randomness. It incorporates luck. Sometimes it seems like it all makes sense and other times it is completely baffling.
But we have to learn to see that we cannot control outside forces but we can control us. We can reach deep inside to determine what we do in the face of life’s unfairness.
Having the willpower to resist temptation is something that can help you reach your goals and become more successful and happy. Being able to put off instant gratification to gain more in the future is a tried and true strategy for improvement.
Call it self-control or self-discipline, the ability to use willpower to will you to do the right thing provides incredible rewards. Not having enough creates some of the most common struggles for people everywhere.
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This website has been developed to help you understand the power of systems and habits in your life and then take action to build the person that you want to become. There are over 70 free articles, 1 free eBook, and free videos and links to other system and habit experts.