Years ago I was involved in the purchase and start-up of a new franchise location for a business. It was an exciting experience and one I learned a great deal from.
One thing that I heard constantly during this time was to “follow the system.” Being somewhat of a systems fanatic it was refreshing to hear such a focus on the system.
Most people think the value of buying a franchise is that they now have the rights to sell a product. This is sort of true. Nobody would buy a franchise that doesn’t have product or service that they don’t feel there is a need for.
However, the real value of buying a franchise business is that you are buying a business system. The system you are buying is likely already proven out in various locations and shown to be something that people are willing to pay.
The reason we kept hearing to “follow the system” is because the franchise had already learned a lot through trial and error and made the necessary business changes to give the business the best chance at success. Owners that wanted to do their own thing often repeated these mistakes rather than learning from others previous mistakes.
But there is more to it than that. It can be difficult in many situations to keep going and working the system. There is uncertainty and with one’s finances on the line there is a lot of anxiety and stress. This causes us to act emotionally more than logically.
But we experience a similar phenomenon when we attempt to change something in our personal lives to reach a goal. Change creates additional uncertainty and stress. We may take this emotional response and then act inconsistently. This could result in a poor attempt at creating a system to solve a problem or improve an area of our life.
While flexibility is important and learning through various interactions has its place in our improvement efforts, we also have to understand the value of keeping with the system.
Most system and habit changes take time. If we change every few weeks we will likely never establish the necessary habits in order to take us to our goals.
Therefore, we have to keep working the system. We have to keep going and going and doing the necessary steps until they truly start to feel automatic.
There is a lot of misguided insight about habits that says that if we do something for 21 days it magically transforms into a habit.
The research behind this is actually not stating this at all. They point to a study that was done a while back that looked at individuals that lost a limb. They concluded that after roughly 21 days, it started to feel more natural and some of the ailments around this were reduced.
So when we hear that there is a 21 day fix or that we only need to work out for 21 days to see the results we crave, we should pause and realize that this might be more of a marketing ploy than something we can rely on to help us be successful.
In reality it could take years for some of the positive habits we are trying to establish truly become automatic. There are things I have done for 15 years that are not so automatic that I don’t have to think about doing them.
Therefore it isn’t just to do something for 21 days and then stop. It isn’t to do something for 21 days and then expect major life changes.
Instead we should focus on continuing to work the system. Yes we can make changes but don’t let these changes get in the way of continuing to do the work.