Change Your System to Change Your Results
It’s autumn now, and you have probably figured out your “new normal” and your current routine. How’s it going? What’s working? What’s not? Remember: you are not your results. A disappointing outcome doesn’t make you a disappointment. Instead, your results highlight which system you’re using. To change your results, change your system.
Our brains take the path of least resistance, either into whatever is easiest, or whatever is most familiar. Life is already unpredictable; who needs decision fatigue? “We’ve always done it this way” because we don’t have to think too hard about it. However, if you’re not satisfied with the results you’re getting, it’s time to examine your system.
The decisions “What do I have to do?” and “How do I do it?” are made in two different parts of our brain. Increase your efficiency by combining the answers to these questions into a system. Systems answer both questions by outlining what needs to be done, what ingredients/steps are required to complete the action, and when each action will take place. The details matter: the more detailed your system is, the more effective it will be. Sometimes one little detail can make the difference between fantastic and frustrating. Think through everything, and draw a picture or make a list (pretend like you’re writing a recipe or an instruction manual: What needs to happen? What do you need? How will you do it? Identify what’s involved in each step.).
You already use many systems each day; you just might not have identified them by this name. If you want results to change, DON’T scrap your current system and start over! Instead, it’s valuable to first see where things naturally want to go, and figure out how to work with them. Put on your detective hat, and get out your magnifying glass: investigate what’s already there, what’s working, and what’s not. Where’s the point where things usually fall apart or become tangled? Step into your lab, and get out your beakers: what happens if you switch out what you usually do at that choice point, and replace it with something else? What’s one little thing you can add that might make all the difference?
Note: we use systems only when they minimize our stress or increase our effectiveness. The point in examining our systems is not to further complicate our lives; instead, it’s to figure out how to adjust what we’re doing until we obtain the results we want. Remove the judgment (it’s not you; it’s the system!): if something isn’t working the way you want it to, experiment with changing one of the ingredients/steps in your system. Continue experimenting until you consistently get the outcome you want.
What else do you need to feel confident in examining your systems and changing your results? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!