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Make common sense your common behavior

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.  

Make common sense your common behavior

Scott Miker

Sometimes in conversations with others, I see examples where people know what they should do but do something different.  We all experience this from time to time.

If we want to get healthy we need to exercise more and eat healthier foods and lower caloric intake.  This is common sense, most would say.  But it isn’t common behavior.

Just look at all the advertising around health and wellness.  Take this supplement to fix all your problems around some aspect of your life.  Buy this product to solve this other issue you are facing. 

It always seems like they are really selling an easy shortcut to what we want.  Curious, we think, “maybe they are on to something, maybe all I need to do is purchase their product to get what I want.”

Here is an example from my past to illustrate this.  I was in college and leading a very unhealthy lifestyle.  I ate foods that were high in calories, fat, sugar etc.  I didn’t exercise at all.  I drank too much alcohol and sugary drinks. 

As you would expect, this started to catch up with me.  I was putting on a significant amount of weight.  While it may seem obvious what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do differently, I was focused on some quick, easy fix.

One specific thing I did, was I bought an electronic belt.  This wrapped around your stomach and shot small electrical pulses into your stomach muscles, causing them to spasm.  The claim was this worked because it was simulating what we do when we workout. 

Now, this may help someone that is an elite athlete and looking for more ways gain an edge.  But what it doesn’t do is replace all of the common sense behaviors towards our health. 

Picturing myself back then, convinced I would have six-pack abs in a few weeks, while sitting on the couch eating cookies and drinking Dr. Pepper, watching TV all day still makes me shake my head.  My former naïve self should have instead worked to use a common sense approach.  I should have turned common sense into common behavior. 

In systems thinking, shortcuts are looked at differently than how many of us view them using traditional linear thinking.  Now it seems we think they are some new thing that will help and nobody even knows about it yet. 

But shortcuts to a systems thinker represent much more.  We start to see all of the additional problems the shortcut will create, we can identify the marketing ploys from the actual scientific studies and we start to see how it goes against common sense. 

So in order to reach your goals, focus more on taking small steps in the right direction.  We likely know when we are headed in the right direction so use this to help create small behavior changes to help lead us towards our idea of success.  Avoid the shortcuts and gimmicks and focus on the real-life elements that we too often ignore in search of quick and easy.