Why You Need a System That Works5 min read
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Did you know that almost 50% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions and of those, only 8% are successful? Those are not very good odds. And although I’m not going to start promoting New Year’s Resolutions, I am 100% in support of goal setting and planning out your year.
The new year is also a great time to recognize a fresh start and get beyond anything that may have had you stuck in the prior year. If this is you, this is the perfect opportunity to resolve, forgive, forget, or get beyond whatever has been holding you back.
Why Resolutions Fail
One of the reasons why most people don’t achieve their goals is because they do not have a system in place that practically links their day to day doings back to them. It is easy (and for some of us, even fun) to brainstorm, dream, and write out our goals for the year. It is another thing to actually follow through with a plan to make them happen.
So many believe that the way to make this happen is through willpower and desire. The desire to achieve the results and the willpower to make it happen. If this is your system, my guess is that you are having a hard time reaching the finish line.
If we are dependent only on our desire to achieve a goal at any given time, it will often be realized that the alternative, is even more desirable.
For example – let’s assume your goal is to workout 5 days a week with increasing intensity because your desire is to be in shape and fit comfortably in your clothes. Your desire to lounge on the couch and read a good book, or lay in bed and get a couple more minutes of sleep will easily win over because in the moment, this desire is so much stronger than the far-off idea of being in shape.
On the other side of things, if we are dependent on our willpower to make things happen, this may work for some amount of time. Unfortunately though, willpower is one of those things that we have a limited supply of. Once other things come into your life that pull from it, the willpower necessary to keep moving ahead with your goal goes out the window.
So the question becomes, how do we go about achieving our goals?
The answer is using a system that works for you. Yes, it really is that simple. In order to achieve your goals (and many other benefits), you need a system to follow that keeps you on track. Day after day, week after week, it constantly pulls you back towards your goals. Even if you spend an entire week doing nothing because you had the flu run through your household, it is something that you can easily jump back into when you are ready. And again, it will set you up right where you left off.
Rather than working on this goal over here and that goal over there, trying to build this habit and keep to this schedule… your only effort needs to go towards following the system. Your willpower? Again, it just goes towards following the system.
When your goals change, or you want to switch up your schedule? No big deal – because you have trained yourself the habit of following a system, this becomes very doable.
You may now be asking, what does this system look like? Although it may take a little time to implement into your life, it is fairly simple once you get used to it. The basis is that your big picture goals and vision are filtering down to your daily tasks. This way, as you go through your day, you are actually working towards your goals rather than just doing busy work and wasting time.
In addition, each day, week, or month that goes by, you are regularly getting redirected back towards the bigger picture. You are constantly being reminded, by your system, not your mind, what you are working towards.
Keeping the Big Picture in Sight
Essentially, what it comes down to is this: when you are doing your daily planning, you need to be looking back to your plan for the week. In your weekly planning, you need to look back at your month. With monthly planning, you look back at your quarter. In your quarterly planning, you look back at your annual plan, and in both your quarterly and annual planning, you look back at your life plan and any other guiding documents such as this.
This translates to the fact that in doing your daily planning, you have the same perspective you had when you completed your annual plan as well as your life plan. Your actions today are what need to be done in order to achieve your ideal year and so on.
Use a Planner That Works
The second part is that you need to be using a planning system that includes a few key elements that draw your focus back towards this big picture, while also managing all the other parts of your day to day life. Having a place to remind you of the habits you are working on is one piece to this puzzle.
Another is somewhere to note the “One Thing” that you want to focus on for each day. Sometimes this is not the most important or urgent thing, but ideally, it is the One Thing that you can do today to make everything else easier or unnecessary. For more information on this concept, read: What is the One Key to Productivity?
In addition to these two elements, it is also good to have a reminder of the different areas of life you prioritize (aka your Life Categories). This helps you make an intentional choice on what you want to focus on at a given point in time, and what you could handle taking a break from.
You can make many other systems or planners work along with this system, or you can also try out my planning system that follows it completely. You can find the monthly planning course here or if you want to skip the lessons, the planner alone is available here.
Look at your system right now – how do you connect your daily tasks to your big picture goals?