“We don’t rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems.” -James Clear
Do you ever wonder how some people achieve their goals and others don’t? More often that not, what separates those people are the systems they choose. Systems are habits. Small habits. Steps we take to move in the direction we want to go.
Winners and losers have the same goals, don’t they? Both basketball teams want to win the game. Every Olympian wants to win the gold medal. We all want to be healthy and fit. What separates those who win or achieve that goal has less to do with focusing on the goal and everything to do with focusing on the systems; the habits, that will produce the outcome. The basketball team doesn’t spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard and expect to win. They execute plays. The Olympian doesn’t stare at the finish line. They focus on their running stride, their breathing, etc.
We won’t lose weight and get in shape by simply wanting to eat better and exercise more. We have to download the meal prep app. We need to meal prep. We take our lunches to work. We pack our gym bag and leave it in the car. We set our alarm earlier. These habits and dozens more are the keys to achieving the goal. The goal is necessary, but not sufficient to ensure we succeed.
If you focus on the right habits, the outcome will begin to take shape. The outcomes we want are a lagging measure of the behaviors that precede them. And those behaviors are largely driven by our habits.
Negative habits are often automatic, and we don’t always think of them as “negative”, but if you analyze your habits, which ones move you towards your goals and which ones move you further away from them? Do you have fast-food lunch every day at work because that’s what everyone else does? Or do you bring your lunch with you, and use your lunch break wisely? Do you watch an hour of TV every night, or do you spend time stretching, reading, or journaling?
Take a few minutes right now and write down some habits that are moving you further away from your goals. Identify these areas that you’ve let bad habits dictate your actions. Then you can work on a plan to reverse the habits and move in the right direction. Take 10 minutes right now!
Building outcome-based habits versus identity-based habits.
Compare these to statements:
“To lose 40 pounds in 6 months, I’ll go to the gym 5 days per week and follow a paleo meal plan. Then I’ll be the person I want to be.”
“Who is the type of person that can lose 40 pounds in 6 months? What are the habits of that type of person?”
Which statement sounds more familiar? Too often, it’s the first one. The goal is set based on the outcome. “I want to lose 40 pounds in 6 months.” However, we find those who are more successful at achieving results utilize the identity based habits, as in the second example. If you can identify as “the type of person that is fit and healthy” then you can successfully build habits – systems – based around that identity. “I will become the type of person that can lose 40 pounds in 6 months.” This has more power! Once you can identify the type of person you want to be, then you can identify the habits of that type of person and take action!
Here’s an example:
“I’m the type of person that is disciplined.”
3 Habits of Disciplined People:
1) I don’t hit the snooze button.
2) I will make my bed right as I wake up.
3) I will write down my top priorities of the day as I eat breakfast.
Your turn. Take a few minutes and write down two or three, “I’m the type of person that ________” statements. And then, write down 3 habits of that type of person that you aren’t currently doing. How can you implement these habits, based around the type of person that you want to be? Now you have small habits that you can easily execute on that will begin to shape your desired outcome!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the power of habits. Spend some time really diving into a couple Identity-based habits and see where that leads
Create small habits today!