Systems thinking differs from the way most people think. It looks at full systems and the interconnecting elements of the system instead of just looking at small subsections of the system.
This allows us to see a bigger picture and get a better understanding of the full system. It allows us to better understand the world around us.
Whenever we look at something and are confused by someone’s actions, it is likely that we aren’t seeing the full picture. Seeing the full picture provides empathy because it helps explain the unexplainable.
It doesn’t justify those unexplainable actions. But it gives insight into why they occurred.
When using the systems and habits approach to improvement, we start to take control of the small daily actions and routines in our lives. Doing this allows us to design the life that we desire, instead of simply going through the motions and hoping for the best outcome.
One thing that I noticed is that doing this starts to blend various elements together. If we start taking control of some aspect of our life there are ramifications on other areas. Sometimes this are positive and sometimes negative.
Think about the last time you had a stressful day at work. Did you come home in a cheery mood for your family? Or did that stress bleed over into your family time?
Or think about trying to resist some temptation. If you are trying to eat healthier did you find it more difficult to resist letting frustration boil over when someone at work screwed something up forcing you to jump in and fix it?
We all experience this. Research has shown that it is difficult to compartmentalize these areas.
We may want them to be separate but the full system contains them all. So whenever we adjust one, it will start to react with other areas.
If we deplete our willpower trying to resist the daily donut, we will find it more difficult to stay calm when something negative happens at work.
If we are filled with stress from an upcoming project, coming home likely means a chance to step away and relax. Then why is it so difficult to do that and not get irritated easily from those you love who have no connection to that project?
The good news is that the answer isn’t to stop trying. The answer isn’t to avoid difficult projects at work or indulge in any junk food available.
The answer is to start to adjust the systems and habits in your life. You can slowly start to adjust these so they don’t have massive impacts in other areas. Then you can start to address these impacts and adjust your process until it leads to progress and improvement.
Over time you can learn how to compartmentalize those things. You can learn to relax and stay calm in chaos. You can learn how to stay in control. You can learn to use habit to resist temptation instead of willpower.
The good news is that the positives can bleed to other areas of your life just the same. If you have a good day at work you are more likely to come home in a good mood for your family. If you are starting to eat healthier the benefits will extend beyond your waste line and will result in more focus and energy in other areas.
The key is to start slowly and account for the full system. You have to be ready for these other impacts to pop up – good or bad. When they do, you can evaluate the system and come up with a strategy to make sure that you are moving in your chosen direction and not just letting everything bleed together. As you start to improve in a few areas, the positive impacts will extend to many unrelated aspects.
The systems and habits approach to improvement is great for anyone looking to get better. It uses our small daily habits and routines and starts to modify them so that we slowly change to become whom we need to in order to reach our dreams and objectives in life.