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Overcome the start

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.  

Overcome the start

Scott Miker

One of the most difficult aspects of improvement is the first step that you take.  It might be to start trying to get healthy or start budgeting your money to pay off credit card debt.

It could be to decide on a school for continuing your education or applying to your dream job.  It could be to quit smoking or begin writing a screenplay. 

Why is starting so difficult?  For me it always seemed like this big hurdle because I put too much value in the start.

I expect quick results and with quick results I have to make sure I do exactly the right thing when I start. 

I have the benefit of keeping it a dream before I start.  This means that I can create whatever narrative I want by just imagining it.  I’m not disappointed because anything is still possible. 

I also have fear that I will fail.  That creates procrastination and a desire to wait to start until everything is perfect.  But perfect is an illusion and will never come until we take action. 

So we have a sense of why starting is difficult, but what can we do to make it easier?

Some people recommend just jumping into it.  Like jumping into a pool, all at once and your in. 

I don’t like that strategy.  It might work for some but I have found that strategy doesn’t really help overcome those blockers.  It assumes you have enough control over them to be able to jump in. 

They say quit your job and then start looking for your dream job.  They say to commit to a four-hour workout 4 times a week.  They say, “Just stop smoking cold turkey.”

But all of these are much easier said than done.  In reality is much more complicated and difficult than that. 

Most people don’t realize that there is a great alternative.  The alternative is following the systems and habits approach to improvement.  This involves starting very small with repeating behaviors.  We start with small elements but we do them over and over and over.

This starts to form new habits and structures.  Then we keep doing them but slowly add more and more to these new habits and structures.  In time you can completely change your behaviors and routines and get moving in the right direction. 

I’ve found great success following this model.  It makes success possible and moving closer and closer to it helps to see that you are making progress.  But you have to get rid of the idea of instant success.  This strategy takes time and we have to realize the value of doing these small steps over and over.  But if we do, then we can start to improve greatly one step and a time.