The idea of using systems and habits to reach goals may give the impression that it is about turning the work associated with reaching a goal into something automatic so that you don’t have to think while you are doing it. But it is much more than that.
In the movie Office Space the main character visits an occupational hypnotherapist to help with his unhappy work life. He explains that he would love it if the hypnotherapist could just knock him out during work hours so that he could mindlessly do the work but think he was golfing or something.
But systems and habit work is much different. One of the things that came out of it for me was a newfound sense of patience.
When I was in college I remember having little patience. I wanted everything right now and whatever I was doing wasn’t enough. I wanted to be doing something else.
I was almost exclusively living in the past or future and disregarded the present. I would constantly ruminate about the future and try to map out a direction that my life was heading.
But while I was planning for the future and plotting how it would all happen, the time passed me by and I hadn’t made any progress towards those goals. Instead of doing what little things I could, I spent all of my energy analyzing the past and using it to try and predict the future.
Now I realize that impatience and avoiding the present are tied together. I was forced to be impatient because I knew I wasn’t really going in the direction that I wanted to go. But I didn’t know how to change that.
As I got older and started to better understand the systems and habits in our lives, I started to realize that this helped me to be patient. I could better evaluate a situation to determine if I was making progress towards my goals. If I was, then it became easier to just enjoy the moment, rather than impatiently plotting out a future wish.
For me it is much easier to analyze the past or evaluate the future when I am making progress on my goals. As long as I am making progress the question isn’t about what I should or shouldn’t be doing. It becomes about how can I improve and do things a little bit better. It becomes much more manageable.
Systems and habits have also taken me to a happier state. It has allowed me to relax and move forward on what I want to achieve and connects me to a higher purpose.
Dr. Wayne Dyer writes a lot about the ego. He doesn’t describe the ego in the general sense that we use it to describe professional athletes or celebrities.
He explains that the ego is composed of several parts. The first is the belief that we are what we have. The second is the idea that we are what we do. The third says that we are what others think of us.
For me I realized that this ego part of me was the same as the little annoying voice in my head. That voice was very loud and blocked out the subtle communication between my body and my conscious mind.
Because systems and habits allowed me to make progress towards my goals, I was able to develop patience and I learned to quiet that voice. It became less of an incessant nag and more of a useful alert that I am getting off track.
Patience is the core of systems and habits work and patience allows us a deeper dive into our own thoughts and behaviors. It allows us to be happier because it shifts from an ego-based goal and allows us to actually achieve what we want in life.
Next time you are becoming impatient, see if the systems and habits are taking you in the direction that you wish to go. Then take actionable steps to make sure you are improving and making progress rather than strategy or nag yourself over a different approach.