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What we want and what we do each day should align

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.  

What we want and what we do each day should align

Scott Miker

Many people set goals.  They daydream about the perfect body or the big promotion at work.  They know they want more money and better relationships. 

If we stop there, we will then assume that they are all working towards those things.  They must be exercising, striving to learn more and do more at work.  They are investing their money in assets and taking the time to improve their connection to those that are important to them.

Unfortunately, this is often not the case.  In fact, more often what we see is that they are doing the exact opposite of what they should if they are really trying to reach their goal.

Instead they don’t exercise and eat whatever they want, regardless of the health benefits.  They feel entitled at work and only work when they absolutely have to.

They spend their money on things that quickly lose any value, instead of investing it.  They expect the other person in the relationship to change, so they don’t have to.

Why is this?

There are two motivations behind goals.  The first can be described as explicit goals or explicit motivation.  This is the expressed goal.  This is what we say we want.

The implicit goal or implicit motivation is different.  That is what we want deep down inside.  We think this would be the same thing but many times is not.  This can’t be something that changes from words alone. 

So we go about our days with these two conflicting goals.  The implicit goals are much more powerful and tend to win the battle, leaving us saying we want success, but doing everything against success. 

The change we have to make is to realize that we have to work every day on these explicit goals in order to have a chance at success.  We can’t just hope and dream and expect behavior to follow suite.

The systems and habits approach understands this and relies on small adjustments done over and over again in order to improve.  We can do this until we start to build positive habits that drive us towards our explicit goals.  Suddenly we align the explicit and implicit goals with our behavior.  In other words, we start doing the things necessary to succeed with what we are saying.

In Soldiers First, by Joe Drape he quotes the Army football coach, Rich Ellerson.  Army is in a strange environment where they require their players to be in the Army first, and play football second.  This means that they are vastly different from other college football programs and their players must be committed to being in the Army, even after their playing days are through. 

Ellerson says, “Winning is a habit, and you got to do it all day.  You can’t just flick a switch on on Saturday.”

He understands that because of their special situation, they can’t just show up one day a week and expect to succeed.  They have to do it every day.  They have to have their behavior align with their stated, explicit goals. 

So if you find yourself wanting something, but notice that you aren’t doing what you have to do to succeed, then explore your implicit and explicit motivation.  Then use the systems and habits approach to improvement to slowly align the two to drive you to success.