Go Team 2023! Systems Check
I only have three more posts in this January series so I wanted to reiterate three important things for you to carry with you as you forge ahead with your habit-building.
First up: a systems check!
Whether you are cruising happily along with your habit building, you are finding each day a struggle, or you are somewhere in between, it’s a good idea to check your systems from time to time.
Note: Doing a systems check is especially important if you are struggling. In my experience, people who are struggling with habit-building are awfully quick to attribute their struggles to some ‘flaw’ they perceive in themselves.
I don’t want that to happen to anyone but I especially don’t want that for you, dear Team members. Instead of defaulting to self-blame, please get curious about your systems instead.
Do you have systems in place to support the plans that you have made and the tasks you need to do to bring those plans to fruition?
If you haven’t consciously chosen a system for adding this habit to your life, you are probably unconsciously defaulting to a system you have used for something else. And a system designed (consciously or unconsciously) for a different project is unlikely to support you in building your current habit and will probably cause you a lot of frustration as you go along.
Your system doesn’t have to be complex or elaborate, it can be a straightforward as selecting a time and a place when you can be reasonably certain that you can do your habit-building tasks on a regular basis.
For example: If you are trying to build a habit of daily meditation, your system could involve choosing to meditate first thing in the morning because you get up before everyone else and you are rarely interrupted. It could also involve things like l putting a blanket in your meditation location every night, setting your coffee pot timer a little later so your coffee is ready when your meditation is done instead of when you first get up, or requesting support from your partner or roommates to take care of anything that arises during your meditation session.
Are your systems doing what you need them to do?
Maybe you have systems in place but they are designed for an ideal day rather than your regular life.
Perhaps the system elements you thought you needed at the beginning don’t actually meet your needs.
Or maybe you the system you created was perfect at the beginning but you quickly outgrew it.
It’s possible that the system you created is more complex than you realized and it’s too hard to follow. (This happens to me a fair bit. I often don’t realize how many steps I have put in place until I try to follow them on a regular basis. Then I end up trying to meet the requirements of the system instead of the system serving me.)
It’s ok to adjust a system that isn’t working.
Taking time, even mid-project, to assess how your systems are working is probably time well-spent.
Identifying the friction in your system now will help you reduce frustration overall and help you refine your habit-building process more quickly. Reducing that friction will let you spend more time on your habit-related tasks and less time fighting with yourself and your own system.
What do you need to add or remove to get your system working for you?
This is not the time to be hard on yourself about what you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ need.
If you think of something to add to or remove from your system that will help you move forward with your habit building, please do what you need to do.
If you find it easier to exercise with a ribbon tied around your left wrist, tie a ribbon around your left wrist. And have a system for keeping track of the ribbon and one for cleaning it when it gets grubby.
You don’t have to get precious about the ribbon – you know you *can* exercise without it, it’s just feels better when you do – but you also don’t have to atop using it just to prove a point.
Go ahead and adjust your system until it meets your needs.
After all, supporting you is the whole point of the system – it might as well do a thorough job.
All Systems Go
So, Team, as you move forward with your habit-building practices and tasks, please do the occasional systems check.
You will always be doing the best you can do with resources you have in a given moment.
There’s no need to let a mismatched system cause you any stress or, worse, to cause you to doubt yourself.
With the right system, and the right match between your expectations and your efforts, you can build the habit you want to build.
And, speaking of efforts, here’s a gold star for your efforts today – whatever those efforts might entail.
Be kind to yourself out there.
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