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Build systems rather than making goals

٪ B٪ d ،٪ Y

Build systems rather than making goals

I go to the gym two to three times per week. I walk for an hour or more every day (mostly courtesy of my dog), and I follow a fifteen- to thirty- minute yoga session every few days. Here’s a secret: I don’t do all of this because I have a pressing drive to do so, nor because I am always excited to get out and begin moving.

As humans, we often seek short-term pleasure rather than setting up long-term, winning systems. In this vein, to be honest, most of the time I’d rather go for a nice nap or sit and have a quiet cup of coffee than train or do something healthy and constructive.

If I were to make my goal to do all of the above in any given week, without any prior knowledge or experience, I think I would fail. This is because goals don’t always work out so well. This is because I would likely crumble and just head off for that nap.

Human will is finite. Enthusiasm wanes very quickly and passion is a precious resource that won’t last you long. It won’t get you out and about on a rainy day, nor will it motivate you to go to the gym.

You cannot rely on willing or motivation to keep you on track. You can’t rely on goals or idealised visions.

The reason I do what I do is because I have turned it all into habit. I have a routine in place. I follow it because I have ensured that it won’t seriously occur to me not to. In short: it’s a system I have built into my life, and so it is near enough fool-proof.

For example: It’s Sunday today, so it’s my time to head off to work and sit in on our Sunday Team meetings; it’s 9:00am and the dog is giving me puppy eyes, expecting his walk; it’s Wednesday morning and so it’s time for my Morning Meditation.  It’s scheduled and planned into a habitual system.

Nothing is negotiable, so I do it all. These are all habits that take the choice out of my hands.

If you rely on motivation in the first place, you are setting yourself up for failure. As soon as that motivation runs dry- which it always  will- you will stop doing what you need to do. Treat motivation as what it really is: a result, not a cause. The more success we have, the more motivated we are, and this motivation is nice: it makes things easier and keeps our spirits up. But don’t rely on it to get yourself going: set up solid, good quality systems, habits and routines, make them non-negotiable, and you will be setting yourself up for success.


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