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What path are you on?

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 path are you on?

Scott Miker

When you look at your life and where you want to go, ask yourself what path you are on.  Are you confidently moving forward, progressing towards your idea of success?

Or are you spending your time moving further and further from your goals all the while unsure of why you keep moving further away?

There is a concept around goals that classifies goals in two ways.  First there are explicit goals.  These goals are our stated goals.  These are the goals we talk about when asked what goals we have.

The second type of goal is often more powerful.  It is called an implicit goal.  These are internal motivators.  They often go unnoticed.  We don’t talk about them because we probably have no idea they even exist.

So when we say our goal is to get healthy and bring our cholesterol levels down to a healthy range, but then go out with our friends and order a burger and fries with extra mayo, an appetizer of something fried and then dessert while drinking two or three beers we can see examples of these two goals.   

Our explicit goal would be to bring our cholesterol levels down.  Our implicit goal is what is driving our behavior.  It could be to enjoy our food, to blend in with our friends at restaurants, the desire to save money when ordering out etc. - whatever those implicit reasons behind our behavior.

If we are unaware of our implicit goals we will likely find that they sabotage our efforts towards improvement.  They are often deep mental models and beliefs.  They manifest in habits and we can notice them by studying the patterns of behavior in our lives.

The systems and habits approach to improvement takes our explicit goals and then creates recurring behavior that forms into habits.  Then the habits start to change our implicit goals.  We start to drive our behavior from the positive habits we have created.

Many times success starts with goals.  But don’t misunderstand the types of goals and assume just setting an explicit goal is enough.  Instead look at the path you are on, the direction you are heading, and the patterns of behavior in your life and then decide how to slowly change course.