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The journey

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.  

The journey

Scott Miker

If you are using the systems and habits approach to improvement you likely have put in place several key behaviors that you do regularly. As you do this, you probably wondered if it is working. So you start to compare the progress that you have made to the end place that you hope to end up.

It is natural to do this. We all do it. We peek at the reward at the end of the journey and get sidetracked. We might be doing well and we convince our self that we can take it easy since we are making good progress.

We might see that we are much further than we had hoped. This might lead to feelings of hopelessness. We start to feel that we won’t get there and it isn’t worth it to even try.

But one of the keys to success for this model of improvement is to focus solely on the steps you take. In other words, we have to learn to focus on the journey.

After we have built up some positive habits this becomes easier. We can keep following our new positive routines. But if we are just starting out, we likely don’t have much to point to in order to prove to our self that we are on the right track.

This is completely normal. The hardest time is usually at the start. It is hardest because we are so far from our goal and so clumsy in our approach. We certainly don’t feel natural doing it. We haven’t converted the behavior to become automatic.

Once the behavior turns to automation and we do it without much conscious thought, that is when we start to really make progress. Time seems to go by quickly.

I remember a few months ago when I started to incorporate some new exercises in my workout routine. I struggled through each day to try and keep my new routine going. I knew consistency was important so I had to keep going each day.

After a week it felt like I had been doing it for month. After a month or so it felt like this new struggle lasted for several months. Each step took a lot of effort to keep going.

But if we fast-forward a few months, when the new routine starts to become automatic and we get a completely different frame of reference for our time. Instead of drudging my way through, I am starting to float along. It is becoming easier and time seems to fly by. I turn around and it seems like another week is complete.

By this time it is much easier to start to enjoy the journey. Instead of a hyper-focused approach on the end result I hope to achieve, I can relax and just enjoy the routine.

A lot of people give the advice to enjoy the journey. But in the beginning this can be quite difficult. Therefore, we might need to struggle through for a little while as we build new habits and routines.

Once these new habits and routines become automatic and engrain into our daily activities it is much easier to start to enjoy the process. So don’t get discouraged if you initially have a difficult time finding the journey to be an enjoyable one.