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Embrace Healthy Systems Part 2

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Did you come up with resolutions for 2022? According to many studies, there is a 92% chance you won’t accomplish those goals. Why? It has nothing to do with you. They’re always talking about having ambitious goals in school, however, they never teach you how to achieve those goals. It’s only been in recent years that researchers have begun writing about how to actually achieve goals. There’s been so much research in this department, and almost all of it details the same thing: Systems work. Systems are for champions. Goals are just wishes.

A Small Adjustment Over Time

If you implement tiny changes, day after day, you will see huge results over the ensuing years. For example, most people say they want to lose weight in the new year. You ask them how they are going to do that. This is when you find out the goal is just a wish. They have no plan, if they do have a plan, it is unrealistic. “I’m going to start working out five times a week,” seems unlikely if the person wasn’t working out hardly at all before. However, let’s say a guy or gal says, “I normally have a bagel with my afternoon coffee. I’m going to drop that in the new year. New system for me: No more bagels at coffee time.” Well, that seems a little too easy to implement, right? This can’t get results, can it?

A bagel is generally a little more than 200 calories. If you cut out 200 calories per day, that adds up to 20 pounds lost by the end of the year. 200 calories multiplied by 365 days in a year is 73,000 calories. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. 73,000/3,500 = 20.86 pounds. The way you implement tiny changes is by creating systems you can adhere to. You don’t need the clock to strike midnight on December 31st to implement them. You can start at any point.

Record, Record, Record

All you need is a notebook. In each page of the notebook, write the system you are trying to implement at the top. Then, on the page, write the dates you fulfill the system. Number each date so you can see how many of them you collect. At the end of the months and years, see what percentage of days you adhered to the system. Decide what rates of efficiency you want. Aim for fulfilling the system 80 or 90% of the days.

This system…for systems…works because no one is perfect. There will be days you slip. You won’t be able to work out, for example, on a five-day vacation sometimes. Instead of beating yourself up about it, you can just add a couple sessions the next week. You can work to get your accuracy above 60% or 80% or whatever it is. You don’t have to be perfect. If you don’t want to use an old-fashioned notebook, you can use a note file in your computer or cell phone. There are also apps now that will help you track your progress while you attempt to implement new habits. Just look up habit tracking apps and you’re on your way.

A Time And A Place

It’s also important that you pick a specific time to tend to your goals. It’s helpful if you attach it to a specific time of your day. If you have to take the subway every day, for example, you can train yourself to view your systems log when you get on public transit. If you have a morning coffee at the same place every day, you can check your systems log there. It’s also advisable for you to share your systems with someone who cares about you. If you tell a significant other, for example, that you are going to implement new systems in your life, you will feel ridiculous if you go back on them. You would think twice about having that bagel at work if you told all your coworkers you were done with them.

Finally, this is optional, but one of the
best ways to follow through on your systems is put a large wager on it. Write a
check to a political candidate you despise. Give it to a good friend and tell
them to mail it in if you don’t deliver your systems log by a certain date. If
you want to dissuade falsification, take photos or videos with your cell phone
for three seconds showing you following through on a system. Three seconds of
you at a gym. A photo of you studying cards.

If you put together a group, you will each hold each other accountable. There’s a reason “your network is your net worth” is a phrase. I literally moved my entire life to New York City to be around people who would roast me if I didn’t follow through. It’s led me to growing immensely.

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