This week it’s ALL about “systems over willpower.” I’ll do my best to relate them to our Three Action Thursday domains: Finance, Personal Development, and Building Authentic Relationships.
First what exactly does “systems over willpower” mean? Plainly, it means putting systems or automation around achieving a goal and NOT having to rely solely on your willpower to make it happen. Quick personal example: I will NOT go to the gym unless someone is there waiting for me. I just don’t have the willpower to consistently go. I struggled for years (ok a decade) to find some consistency and over and over again I failed. I hired a trainer. Hasn’t been a problem ever since.
In general, I find that people (including myself) tackle a personal “incompetency” using willpower first and typically fail or in the least struggle mightily. Examples: losing weight, saving money, working out, scaling a business, etc. It’s not until they’ve done the research and established systems that support their goal attainment that people really start building consistency and eventual competency.
By the way…it took me 37 years, but I finally can do a pull-up.
Out of all the Three Action Thursday topics, I believe Finance might be the easiest to systematize. You can automatically withdraw monthly from an account to systematically invest on a regular basis, your employer allows you to take money right from your check for 401k contributions, you can pay bills automatically with many vendors (electricity, mortgage, water bill, trash, etc.), and if it’s not able to be automated most tasks can be done via the computer or web now.
Honestly, there is no excuse for not having the majority of your bills paid and investing done automatically with very little action on your part. You set them up, and they run themselves. So the action below related to finance should be an easy one.
**Action: If it’s not automated, automate it. If you’ve done all the automating you think you can do, then start looking at online tools that will systematically track your net worth for you.**
RELATIONSHIP BUILDING/PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
REALLY, you should focus on this section so you can increase the likelihood of serendipity and effort to allow you to earn more. And by “earning more,” I don’t necessarily mean money. I include happiness and life satisfaction as “earning more” too!
I have bundled relationship building and personal development this week, because if you are going to systemize or simplify something then my suggestion is to bundle these two in real life for efficiency sake and maximum impact!
From personal experience, one of the most significant impacts on my life has been growing relationships with people who have shared interests, and who are at different stages of their personal development in those interests. And I’ve had to do it in an a la carte manner. At this point in my life, there are very specific things I want to optimize: My family, my faith, and building businesses through entrepreneurship. I have very specific goals in those areas and I’ve sought out people and groups to help me advance. I haven’t found one group that epitomizes all those things, so I have not been able to reach a peak efficiency. But the groups I have found have provided a framework, system, and accountability. And best of all, I really enjoy the people.
In a previous piece, I dramatically stated how much I spent on relationships over the course of a year. I don’t think that spending lots of money is necessarily necessary (is that redundant?) but I do think it sets a higher barrier of entry and thus creates an environment where people take things much more seriously. You know they want to be there. But honestly what it mostly comes down to is the commitment. Find a system/group that’s committed.
As I type this my wife is having a women’s bible study downstairs, I’ll be eating dinner with my family every night this week, tomorrow I’m meeting other men from my church for breakfast and before that I am being tortured by my trainer at the gym, and next week I am having lunch with my entrepreneurial group. These are all “systems” I have put in place to get the most out of life.
**Action: Identify the biggest hole in your life. Plug it using a system.**