In 2019 things will change for the better, not worse.
You will make good choices, and make less mistakes.
You will do more art, and express yourself without apologizing.
You will stop hoping and start doing.
You will take up new habits, actions, and behaviors you’ll enjoy that will ultimately enrich your life.
You will be a better person.
For a better 2019, create systems, not goals
People have been pledging new year self-improvement goals for thousands of years (ancient Babylonians first made start of year promises back in 1894 BC).
Everyone has a number of goals, but it’s the commitment to a system, a course of action, that makes the difference.
A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of success regardless of the immediate outcome.
Guardian’s Oliver Burkman, explains, “Drawing one cartoon a day is a system; so is resolving to take some kind of exercise daily — rather than setting a goal, like being able to run a marathon in four hours.”
Systems allow us to take control of our lives.
A working system allows you to reduce your tasks to a manageable set of inputs and outputs, and establish some predictability.
A collection of goals, tools, habits, and methods is not the same as a purposeful system.
Systems are the foundation of deep, focused and efficient work.
Systems give you the freedom to do your best work every day without making the same mistakes over and over again.
Systems are consistent.
In “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”, author Scott Adams explains: “A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that achieves your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.”
Cultivating the right system can make all the difference in your productive life. Using systems can make your life easier.
A system provides you with an inner guidance system and a equip you with the power of habit.
In 2019, define what is meaningful to you, better still, choose what you would like to change, and create systems to get them done.
James Clear says, “When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.” He writes:
“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.”
You are never going to be truly successful until you have a working system that guides your actions and helps you achieve your goals.
A system makes your goal real. It’s concrete. It gets you moving. It helps you focus on long-terms gains, instead of short-term wins.
Writing a book in 6 months is a great goal but you need structure/system that will make it easier to achieve that goal.
Many writers commit to a few hundred words a day. They commit to a schedule that works for them. A system that makes it easier to take a step closer to the goal.
When you commit to a system, you are far more likely to stick to it. Systems are about the long-term process rather than the short-term result.
A structure in your life and some routines that help you every day and keep you on the right track is better than a single shot at getting something done.
If you intend to get into better shape, build a successful business, or write a best-selling book, systems will get you closer to that goal than a radical one-time shot at achieving your most important goal.
Joe Frazier once said, “Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognized there.”
Anyone who has set and achieved a goal understands the importance of a system. The processes, routines, and habits, that support the achievement of a goal.
Systems as habits
Start anything with a clear goal and focus on the system to achieve it.
Effective goal getting systems begin with clarity concerning your goals. Effort without purpose is wasted effort.
Many people have different successful systems that guide how they work and what actions to take at any point in time to achieve the bigger purpose.
If your current system of work doesn’t work or give the desired results you expect, make a change, create a new system and take steps every day to stick to it.
By spending a little bit of time figuring out what will work best for you and your habits, you can put yourself in a great position to get out of your head and get things done.
Reserving an hour each day for something you absolutely want to get done can be a great system that can help you achieve your big goal.
Burkman says, “…focusing on a system means focusing on what you can control (your actions) rather than what you can’t (the endlessly unpredictable external world). Keep working your system and you’ll maximize the chances that success will find you.”
You can start building systems one habit at a time.
Focus on incremental progress and consistency to lay the foundation for getting things done.
To build an effective system, Annie Mueller recommends visualising the process from step one to the final thing you will do to complete it. She writes:
When building a system, take yourself mentally from step one all the way to the final step. At each step, ask yourself what tools, resources, information, or people you might need access to. Then either put them in a designated space or build in the easiest possible method for getting what you need when you need it. As part of the system, plan a regular time to restock the consumable resources that the system requires.
A daily or weekly routine, a consistent application of even small habits, will transform your life more effectively than striving for an overwhelmingly large goal without a consistent routine to achieve it.
Results gained quickly often don’t last. Why?
Because you have not spent long enough developing the habits and the thoughts that will keep you at that level of success.
It’s what you Do that defines you
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie
Do what you should.
Don’t talk about what you should be doing.
Being a Doer instead of just a Thinker requires an insane amount of discipline and commitment. Doing involves risk but it’s the only way to make progress.
If you are not daring and focused enough, you can never get past the “thinking” stage of getting work done. Stop thinking you are at a disadvantage because of your weaknesses.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
If you really need to get something done, you will find a good reason why you have to pursue it otherwise your excuses will constantly convince you why it can’t be done.
Embrace the action habit!
“Well done is better than well said.” — Benjamin Franklin
Don’t over-plan and under-act in 2019.
Inaction is expensive!
Thinking and planning in advance are important, vital in fact, to your success but acting is even more crucial to long-term achievement.
Actions you take beat life-changing intentions. Not doing anything is the same as intending to do something but never actually doing it.
“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned,” says Peter Marshall
Does it really matter if you wanted or really intended to do something, but ended up just not doing it?
Just thinking about something won’t do you any good if you don’t actually do it. Every time you put something off, it’s put into a queue, and nearly everything in that order of things to do may NEVER get done.
You can never get real progress if you don’t take action.
All of the self-help articles in the world can’t save you if you never take action. Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small).
The only failure comes in not attempting. There is no actual failure in giving your all whatever the results.
Momentum comes through actions, so do something that moves you forwards. Even a small act is significant.
Actions also contain the symbolic power to dissolve fears and build self-confidence and belief.
The only thing more daunting than taking action is taking no action. The bigger the actions, the greater the results.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said, “Let your performance do the thinking.”
Thinking about doing is more exhausting than doing.
Actually, holding on to too many things to do without necessarily getting them done or taken action makes you anxious and stressed. The constant reminder that you have something to start doesn’t help your wellbeing.
Most things on your to-do list won’t be done. Take them off your list or maintain the healthy habit of doing something about them every day.
Being overwhelmed with many things to do and no sense of priority (no deadlines) usually means nothing will get done.
Limit your planning time and take action
“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” — Peter Marshall
Committing to action doesn’t end once you make progress. It means you never stop pushing.
What can you do right now to take even the smallest step towards achieving your most important goal?
As you think about this question, hold the expectation that the answer will be something simple that can be done in the next 30 minutes or less. Whatever reasonable answer pops into your head, accept it and act on it immediately.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Get that simple task done as quickly as you can. Sometimes you’ll flow effortlessly into another task. And you will experience the “first action effect” that makes it easy to stay productive. It may take a little practice to use this strategy to consistently take action. But the benefits are enormous.
Once you commit to getting started, momentum carries you. Producing results builds positive momentum. With momentum, you’ll get ahead and make progress much faster.
Waiting is the least motivating thing you can do.
Not only is doing easier than thinking about doing, but doing also gives you the ability to check something off your to-do list, giving you a sense of progress, engagement, fulfillment, and accomplishment.
Action is the greatest gift that only you can give to yourself, so get started.
You deserve to make 2019 your best year yet.
Whether you want to lose weight, exercise more, Save more money, improve your diet, pursue a career ambition, spend more time with your family, or take up a new hobby, create systems to help you achieve the one thing you really want in life.
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This article first appeared on Medium.