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Move from something you should do to something you actually do

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.  

Move from something you should do to something you actually do

Scott Miker

In life there are numerous things that we want to change.  Many times we want change to happen for us, fitting neatly in the exact way that fits us best.

But if there is change that we desire, we can’t just sit idly by and hope others do it for us.  We have to find a way to move from saying we should change something to actually changing it. 

But I think most people get caught in between should and actually doing it because they don’t know how.  It can be very difficult to change ourselves and so it becomes much easier to criticize those around us for not changing instead.

One of the things that I have found to help transition from thinking about changing to actually doing the work around change is to start small.  Starting small gives action to our thoughts and movement to what it is we want. 

Starting slowly makes it much easier to keep going.  It keeps us from getting overwhelmed and shifts our focus from having instant results to making progress.  Then we focus in making greater progress instead of becoming frustrated when we can’t accomplish instant change. 

So if you want to change something, start at the top and think about the goal and what you think it looks like when you have achieved it.  Then reverse engineer that goal.  Ask yourself what you have to have in place for that to happen?

This will likely give you certain elements that need to be there before change will really happen.  Then ask yourself what needs to be in place for that to happen.

What you tend to get is a list of items that all need to change or improve in some way.  You can keep going and breaking these things down further and further until you have an easy first step. 

The first step is important.  I have talked to many people that have a goal in mind and after several years they haven’t done a single thing about the goal except dream about what it would be like to reach the goal. 

What if, instead, they just did one small thing to start?  Then they systematized that step and made it habit so it wasn’t just a one-time thing, it happened over and over. 

At some point it would likely become automatic and wouldn’t take as much effort to keep going with that step.  Then they add another small step that gets them a little closer.  Then they systematize that.

This can keep going and going and going with slight iterations that ultimately lead to large-scale change. 

From a systems thinking point-of-view, what you are doing is using a leverage point in the system.  In this case the leverage point is time.  You leverage time in a way that helps make it easy and effective.  This allows you to move slowly towards your goal and solidify each step along the way. 

Next time you think about something you should change, start to think about the small steps that you can take now to start to move you towards actual change.  This may feel foreign at first but over time you will start to understand the blueprint for change and improvement and can then apply it to many different areas of your life.