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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.  

Staying locked in mental prison

Scott Miker

We all feel trapped at times.  Maybe something happened to us at work that was beyond our control but impacts us greatly.  Maybe a friend said or did something hurtful to us.  Maybe our health took a negative turn without any warning.

It is natural to feel as though we are shackled in our own mind.  We feel like the victim and might even have proof to show that we weren’t responsible at all.  We were just minding our own business when, all-of-a-sudden we are victimized.

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Putting out fires versus solving problems

Scott Miker

We all have probably been so busy at some point in our lives that we simply try to put out as many metaphorical fires as possible.  It could be at work, at home, at school, or anywhere else where problems surface and it is up to us to fix them.

I’ve worked at places where people treat any problem as a five-alarm fire.  They become chaotic and stressed.  They get nervous and frustrated.  They scramble around trying to find the quickest, easiest way to alleviate the stress caused by the problem. 

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Improving efficiencies in our daily routines

Scott Miker

Most people never look at their personal routines and habits in order to identify ways to improve. They may see something they want and set a goal to get it, but it is usually driven by the reward or prize at the end of a journey.

Because we tend to work backwards from what we want and then start looking at what to do to get it, we often ignore the mundane systems in our life. Instead we try to identify one or two things that we can do differently.

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Construct the life you want

Scott Miker

Most people think that the things they really want in life are out of reach.  They assume financial freedom, a healthy body, loving relationships, etc. only come to us in pieces.  They see chaos reign. 

This keeps them wishing and hoping instead of taking action to change and improve.  They might be able to take a small step forward, but because they view the end result is largely due to luck or some force outside of themselves, they stay where they are.

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Who is in charge of your life?

Scott Miker

Our world is complex.  There are many elements of life and the more we explore life the more we tend to discover.

With all of this complexity, many people start to feel that they are simply being manipulated like a pawn on a chessboard.  They feel that there must be someone else in charge. 

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Don’t just run and from your stress and anxiety

Scott Miker

We all have problems.  We all have stress and anxiety at times.  We all experience fear.

While this are just part of a system that also includes pleasure, happiness, relaxation, fulfillment, etc. we all tend to dwell on the negative emotions from time to time. 

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The world is a collection of logical systems

Scott Miker

I used to dwell on all that I viewed was wrong in the world.  I would find fault in everything.  I took on a condescending attitude that said if only the world would just follow my advice; I could fix everything for everyone.

But, obviously, this was a horrible way to go through life.  I didn’t know anything.  I was naïve and oblivious to the real world.  Luckily, I started to slowly realize how wrong I was and I realized it early in my life.   

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Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with

Scott Miker

Habits are a part of everyone’s life.  We are all creatures of habit who follow patterns in our thoughts and behaviors. 

While this may seem obvious, what isn’t obvious is that we have to deliberately design our habits if we want them to move us towards success and happiness. 

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It takes time

Scott Miker

Have you ever set a goal and timeframe and thought that it was a foregone conclusion that you would hit all of your targets right on time but then struggled to even get traction?

I have.  Many times.  In fact, almost every goal I set seems much easier in my initial daydreaming than it really is.  I don’t know exactly why but I feel that success will be certain.

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Do you work the systems in your life?

Scott Miker

Our life is made up of systems.  But most of the time we are so caught up in the daily ups and downs that we never pay attention to these systems. 

Seeing the systems in your life isn’t absolutely necessary.  We don’t have to pay any attention to them at all.  But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there and aren’t controlling aspects of your life all the time.

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A different take on setbacks

Scott Miker

I love reading success stories and motivational books.  I tend to find the ways that the individual used principles from the systems and habits approach to improvement in order to succeed.

Most of the time there is alignment.  They started small and just kept working and working until they hit a breakthrough; they changed up their routines and didn’t allow themselves to fall back on bad habits, etc.

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Skip the quick fix and just do the work

Scott Miker

Whenever goal-setting and the concept of using systems to succeed comes up, some people automatically assume that we are talking about some quick-fix “system” that instantly solves all of our problems and gives us massive amounts of money and success. 

This is completely the opposite of the systems and habits approach to improvement.  While systems thinking may give us a different perspective on how to improve and will likely shed light on leverage points that can make improvement more likely, it still requires hard work and diligence. 

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This year use your New Year’s resolution to change a small habit

Scott Miker

People like to talk about New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of each year.  They set goals and think about areas of their life that they wish were different.

The logical thing is to set a goal or resolution to change something about you.  Unfortunately the failure rate of New Year’s resolutions is about 80% by February.  What tends to happen is that we just keep falling back to old habits and the motivation fades.

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Learn to start with the small to gain the big

Scott Miker

Adjusting your habits to help you reach your goals can be a great way to succeed but too often people ignore that method to reach for the stars.  “Shoot for the moon so if you miss you will still be among the stars,” they say.

So we start out with enough motivation to fill a house.  We sit on our couch and talk ourselves into a dream and assume we will just breeze past adversity when it shows up.  Why not, we feel the motivation now so we assume we will have it when we need it.

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How do you look at the negative events in your life?

Scott Miker

When something bad happens, what goes through your mind?  Do you start to think about the fairness or unfairness of the situation?  Do you feel like a victim?

Many people, including me at times, have a natural pattern that involves looking for excuses and playing the victim.  It is as if we just need a little negative to suddenly dive into a pity party.

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You already know what to do

Scott Miker

When I talk to people about their goals and aspirations, I often find that feel they just don’t know what to do.  But that isn’t the case.

The more I ask about what it is that they want, they usually state that they should do this or that, but that they just can’t seem to do it enough to see any benefit.  

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Inner scoreboard versus outer scoreboard

Scott Miker

Nick Saban is one of the best coaches in college football.  Many would argue that he has accomplished more than any other coach in history, even though he doesn’t look to be done with coaching any time soon and only seems to get better every year.

With this incredible success, people naturally want to look at what he does and how he thinks in order to reach that extreme level.  One perspective I’ve heard Nick Saban mention in interviews is the inner scoreboard versus the outer scoreboard.

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One day at a time

Scott Miker

This year, in American professional football, the Cleveland Browns have been interesting to watch.  I have lived in Cleveland my whole life so I tend to watch the Browns.  Until this season it has mostly been in agony. 

But this year they look competitive.  They aren’t the best team in the league or even in their division.  But they look competitive and for Browns fans that is a unique position to be in towards the end of the year. 

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From cyclical systems to developmental systems

Scott Miker

The world is filled with systems.  Everything around us is a system.  Our habits and routines are systems.  The way we think and process information are systems. 

We can use this to our advantage by applying systems principles to our personal quest for improvement and success.  We can take the systems approach to improvement to fine-tune our skills, abilities, understanding, etc. to take us towards happiness and success.   

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