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If you don’t know what you want to do, make progress

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

If you don’t know what you want to do, make progress

Scott Miker

When I was younger I thought that if I was doing something that I didn’t want to do I should stop doing it and look for something else.

There were many times that I felt something wasn’t right and my response was to stop doing it and find something else.  If I disliked my job I would quit and look for a better job.  If I didn’t like doing yard work I would find a way to get out of doing it or I would let it go until it was a complete mess. 

At times this worked out.  After college I realized I wanted to start a business as an audio engineer so I dropped everything to pursue that goal.  My sole focus was on achieving that objective.

Because of this and other examples like it, I assumed that we shouldn’t do what feels wrong.  If we are in a dead end job the best thing to do is to quit.  Then that pressure to find something would kick in and force me to find something better.  This follows right along with many motivational authors who encourage us to follow our heart. 

The other day I was having lunch with a friend.  He told me that his son had recently graduated college and had a great entry-level job but was frustrated by it.  He didn’t think he wanted to do that for a living and was planning on quitting to find something else or go back to school.

But the best approach for most people in this situation isn’t to quit and look for something that is more appealing.  The best reaction is actually to keep making progress until you figure it out. 

Most entry-level jobs are awful.  They are tedious and unfulfilling.  But we need to build experience in order to be qualified for the better jobs.  Getting to the better jobs in most situations isn’t about quitting what you are doing now and then trying to find out what we should be doing.

Getting to better jobs happens by working and gaining experience in various situations.   In other words, you get there by slowly making progress over time and doing the hard work that probably feels difficult at the time.

Now this doesn’t mean to stick it out in a job that is going nowhere out of fear.  What it means is that we should be more strategic in our approach.  We should look objectively at the path to get to a better place and then work through the difficult aspects. 

And if we don’t really know what we want, then we should make sure we are making progress while we figure it out.  As long as we keep making progress better opportunities will arise.  But without making progress we will keep finding that all opportunities seem to go to others instead of us.

This really applies to all aspects of our lives.  If we can’t find an exercise that we enjoy we have to keep doing something in order to improve our health.  We have to keep making progress.  As we get in better shape we can do more and more from a physical standpoint and it will open up new activities to stay healthy.

If we are not where we want to be financially, we have to keep improving our budgeting and making progress.  This will open opportunities that aren’t there now and will put us in a better financial situation down the road.    

If we start to use the systems and habits mindset to improve ourselves, we start to realize that we have to work through the difficult and challenging times.  We have to focus on making progress and getting better, not on wishing for the perfect situation. 

If we take on this mindset we can continue to grow and improve our situation over time until everything finally starts to fit together perfectly.  Ask anyone who is in a job they love and they will probably tell you that there was a lot of hard work and sacrifice along the way, they didn’t just stumble on it or get there by quitting everything else.