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One day at a time

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.  

One day at a time

Scott Miker

This year, in American professional football, the Cleveland Browns have been interesting to watch.  I have lived in Cleveland my whole life so I tend to watch the Browns.  Until this season it has mostly been in agony. 

But this year they look competitive.  They aren’t the best team in the league or even in their division.  But they look competitive and for Browns fans that is a unique position to be in towards the end of the year. 

One interesting development is the firing of their head coach and offensive coordinator.  They promoted Greg Williams to the interim head coach position. 

Then the Browns started to win a couple games.  An interview with Williams shed light on his approach to leading the team.  He told the team that they are still in play to make the playoffs.  They are a long shot, but they have a shot.

In an NBC Sports interview with Peter King he said, “I showed them who was alive, and we are.  I also showed them the remaining teams on our schedule, and how five of the six were still alive.  I wanted them to see we’re in it.”

But instead of getting caught daydreaming about what might be, he brings them down to reality by emphasizing the need to keep working.  He said, “But my big thing is: One day at a time.  One practice at a time.  One game at a time.  One meeting at a time.  And they’ve listened well.  They stay in the moment.”

This is a great approach to reaching goals that you can use as well.  It isn’t clear how the Browns season will end up but it does show a strategy where we initially create an optimistic vision of the future to provide hope but then keeping the focus on the process and hard work necessary to make the vision a reality. 

Hope is important because if you set out to lose weight but feel that you will fail, it will kill any motivation and cause you to look for ways to save your ego when you do fail.  Instead, believing it is possible forces you to look at how to reach the goal.

But if all we do is daydream about the future and about what we hope the finish line will look like, we won’t do the hard work necessary to achieve. 

Therefore, we have to focus on the process.  We have to focus on what we are doing to make sure we are taking the right steps.  The hard work is where success will either grow or die so keep your focus on taking the right steps.

He also emphasized an important point.  Trying to tackle all of the hard work all at once will overwhelm you and cause you to try to do too much.  It will end up in burnout or with just missing your goal. 

Instead of tackling all that needs to be done, just tackle the next day, meeting, game etc.  This breaks it off so that it is manageable.  Winning every game the rest of the year is close to impossible.  Winning next week is more than possible’ it is probable with the right game plan and preparation. 

One thing that can still cause a problem is when we don’t have the right processes in place.  If we believe in the process this is a great example of using the systems and habits techniques to improvement.   

Therefore building out the right processes and approach are crucial.  Having the right attitude and following steps that indeed take you towards your goal are necessary so you don’t work on the wrong elements. 

But if you can take your self-improvement goals and then follow the approach of Greg Williams you too can have some surprising success.  So define the vision, keep improving the process and focus on each step along the way.  Doing this will make it much more likely that you will find yourself at the finish line as you hoped, rather than a few steps short.  And if you do find yourself a few steps short, re-examine the process to improve it and then work through the pattern again.