“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
I recently finished listening to Atomic Habits by James Clear on Audible – what an insightful book. It delves into how habits are made, and more importantly why some are accepted into continued practice while others are forgotten.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
We often set goals in the expectation that because of this increased level of performance that we are asking of ourselves, we can will them into fulfillment. However this is not the case – in order to reach stretch goals, we have to purposefully design and implement systems to support their achievement. While the goal may be
I aim to gain 5lbs of lean muscle and achieve a sub-8 minute mile in the next month,
This is not sufficient in and of itself to achieve the stated goal.
“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”
What is needed is an implementable system, such as
I have planned out my workout and dietary schedule for the next 2 months, progressively ramping up so that by the end I will meet my goals. In order to make sure I stay on track I have identified what is required of me on a repeated daily basis. While I may have a stretch goal, I will apply the compounding effect of small improvements every to achieve it.
This approach also significantly reduces the amount of “willed pressure” that we exert in order to meet our goals-
“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.”
If you improve 1% at a task every day, in a year you will be 37 times better. 37 times.
All it takes is a clear goal, a plan to reach that goal, and a system of implementing the required work on a daily basis in the form of small, repeatable habits.
While the goal may be a challenging stretch, the system should be easy.
“Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”
I would highly recommend the book in its entirety, and have linked it below.