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I will do it when things change

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.  

I will do it when things change

Scott Miker

There is a phrase that gets used a lot by all of us. It seems innocent enough but carries with it a heavy block of cement that drags us under water over time.

The phrase can be tweaked to fit many different situations. We can use it to talk about going after our goals, fixing a problem in our life, or doing something we know we should do.

The phrase follows the form of, “I will do it when X happens.” It could be, “I’ll finally take a class when the kids go back to school.” It could be, “I’ll start budgeting my money after my vacation,” or “I’ll start my retirement plan when I finally have enough money to put aside.” It could be, “I’ll start exercising after the holidays.”

Usually the phrase is followed by a legitimate-sounding reason to wait. We think that now is just not the right time and that if we wait the right time will show up.

The problem is that the right time never arrives. As soon as the kids go off to school, we start some other project or get wrapped up in something else. As soon as we get a raise at work, we find something fun to spend the money on.

The phrase seems innocent but turns into a great way to hide excuses. We start to delay ever going after these important areas of our life. We see them as great undertakings so we don’t want to start unless we can give 100%.

But we won’t ever be able to give 100%. There will always be other priorities and other obligations. There will be unforeseen problems that arise. There will be things constantly interfering.

Therefore, the best approach isn’t to delay starting and put everything off until the perfect time arrives.

But the opposite of that isn’t good either. It doesn’t mean to jump into something immediately, and haphazardly.

Instead, what we should do is to learn how to start slowly. We can start to take a few small steps. By making those recurring behaviors or routines, we can start to build new habits to help us go after our goals.

The key is to start so small that it doesn’t feel like this incredible feat to do. We want it to be easy in the early stages. This will start to build up the right habits and ultimately the right mindset of taking action.

It stops us from avoiding any action towards a goal until a future date. It says we will start today, right now. We won’t expect perfection and we won’t do it all at once. But we will start today taking small steps towards our goal.

Don’t fall into the trap of delaying what you know you should be doing. Don’t wait to chase your goals and dreams. Instead start incredibly small and build new routines and habits that can help provide the push that you can later leverage to get even further.