When you start out using the systems and habits approach to improvement you may just have a single goal that you are trying to reach. You may have one area that demands change so you turn to this approach to help you get there.
But one of the benefits of using this approach is that you start to simplify many aspects of your life. Life is complicated and it can quickly and easily get to a point where you don’t know who you are because you want to be too much.
Therefore simplifying things makes sense. If you can strip everything out and only remain a few key aspects, what would those be? What are the most important aspects of your life?
For most people they realize quickly that the things they want to remain in their life are the things pulling them away from their goals. The things that they can give up happen to be the necessary elements of success.
So if they value being with friends they might have more value in going out for dinner and drinks than in saving money for retirement or trying to lose weight.
Then as they simplify they just eliminate those other factors. But a better approach is to work on developing the right systems and habits that support what they value but still work towards their goals.
Many times we can have both but without the systems and habits approach to improvement we will likely continue to trade off what we want to achieve and what we want to do now.
This isn’t always the case. If you love expensive dinners and go out several nights a week it might be difficult to also maintain your new budget.
Most people then try to use willpower or effort to stay away from the bad option (which is usually the most gratifying in the short term). But this puts their willpower against their current systems and habits.
Sometimes it does mean sacrificing now for the future, even though that might not feel like the best option right now. But other times it is simply a matter of better understanding what it is you value.
If you value being with friends, that doesn’t mean that you have to go to expensive restaurants. Maybe you can start to cook and try more elaborate recipes that get your friends to want to go over your house for dinner. Then you can control the cost and nutritional value.
Maybe it means that you limit all other activities so you can continue to do this one. If you want to improve your budget but love going out with friends, can you put enough money in that area to be happy and sacrifice other areas? Maybe you can drive a less expensive car or pick up some additional hours at work.
So sometimes it is thinking outside the box (learning to cook), sometimes it is sacrificing (limiting how many times you go out with friends) and sometimes it is about balance (limiting other areas so you can maximize this area).
The systems and habits approach to improvement works to slowly develop the right structures in your life to move you towards your idea of success. It utilizes many different tactics (such as thinking outside the box, limiting an area, or limiting other areas to maximize a certain area) to accomplish a life that makes you happy and helps you achieve what you desire in life. But it all comes down to being able to simplify so you know what it is you really value in life.