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Take time to get the system right

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.  

Take time to get the system right

Scott Miker

When we set a goal we are usually filled with motivation.  We want to reach that goal so we can enjoy the rewards of getting there and feel the pride associated with doing something we set out to do.

As we get started we want to jump right to action and start moving.  This is a good thing and can help start you on your path towards success. 

But in systems thinking we know that the beginning is very important.  We want to work to get the systems and habits right in order to maintain any momentum we build. 

In fact, if we start incredibly small but change the system, we can have drastic results.  If we start with tons of effort, but ignore the system, we will likely continue to run into self-imposed obstacles along the way. 

This is why so many people that set New Years Resolutions ultimately give up.  They start with motivation and expect the motivation to break through ingrained behaviors in their lives. 

They push against habit and routine.  They push against mental models that have been developed and solidified over years and years. 

Initially they may have enough motivation to overcome the normal way they do things, but in time the habits are just too powerful and they win out, causing them to fail.   

In the systems and habits approach to improvement, we don’t rely exclusively on this motivation to drive us.  Instead we slowly start to shift our habits so that we form new patterns of behavior. 

That is why it is critical to take the time in the early stages to get the system right.  We want to establish what systems should be in place and then work to develop those systems.

Results will come but they will likely take longer to arrive than our early estimates.  This is because we all oversimplify the process in our minds.  We think we can just press a button or do a new action and suddenly see results.   

So instead if we start to attack the process and establish the right processes we can start to build the right foundation to help us reach our goals. 

It is possible to change and improve over time reaching important goals in life.  But the way most people go after their goals is flawed.  They ignore key aspects of the system in an attempt to just rush to the finish line. 

Next time you see an area you want to improve, stop and think about the systems in place.  What are the daily behaviors that push against your goal?  How are you going to change those?  If your answer is by using effort and motivation, you are setting yourself for failure.   

Start to change how you go after your goals by first examining the system in place.  What are the habits and routines that will need to change?  What mental models get in the way of change?

Examining the system first will allow you to build the right foundation.  This will start to adjust the process by which you move forward.  Then as you constantly tweak the process you will start to reach your goals.  As you do, they won’t be temporary, short-term boosts, they will be lasting adjustments that continue to provide rewards long after you stop thinking about them.