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Fether

New Years Resolutions vs New Year Systems

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Probably my all time favorite books is James Clear’s Atomic Habits. It was even the topic of a talk in the most recent general conference. There are some incredible lines in that book, but one line in particular says “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your system”. 
 

A large portion of the book is about not worrying about where you are, but rather creating systems in your life that will take you where you want. It’s about finding joy in the process. After it’s not about what your weight is, how much money you have, if you can dunk a basketball, or what your current job or calling is. It’s about the kind of person you are

So instead of making New Years goals, make New Years systems that will turn you into the kind of person you want to be. 
 

some more quotes from the book:

”Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”

”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.”

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.“

“Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.”

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”

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I think I may be the photo in the dictionary for this line of thinking.  I'll pretty much fail at goals all day long, unless I put some systems in place that will become habits.  

So, using this language: My new system is to go to the gym every other weekday.  Gym bag is now out in daily rotation.  I've thought through the differences between this, and how I used my work wellness center before COVID.  At the gym, my floor is "at least as much as last time".  I'm having to start small and slow.  Before covid, I had just made it to the 'big boys' row of freeweights - 35 lbs and up.   Now I'm back to 15 for a lot of stuff. :(   But I start at 10 or 15, and that becomes my new floor.  

Trying to teach my kid how to drive.  It was time two years ago.  She's nervous, so I'm pushing the idea that she doesn't need to know how to drive, she just needs to get to the end of the driveway today.   Next time, end of the road.  Then to the mailbox.  Then to the edge of the main road.  Try for a tiny bit more, or at least the same.  Build confidence, then move to the next step.   I think this is better than "your goal is to drive me to the store by x date".

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I rather like this idea and have for some time. The artificiality of goals has always left me cold. Unsurprisingly, I don't do well with them.

But at the risk of banging That Same One Note, I would point out the overt anticompetitive nature of this. Such a system is yours alone, without direct reference to what anyone else may or may not be doing.

I believe that the day we quit worrying about how we measure up to Joe Blow's or Jane Roe's accomplishments and how much better we are than Pathetic Pete or Simple Sally, and instead begin focusing on how to become like our Prototype and do the things he does and how to help others do the same, is the day we begin taking large, positive strides toward Zion.

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You definitely need both, a solid idea of where you you want to go and a game plan (system) for how to get there. I have also been terrible at following through on goals and I've about decided that the problem, or at least a major problem, is that my goals are generally based on what I know I ought to do and not necessarily what I want to do. It's the whole heart vs mind conundrum and unless we have an enormous amount of willpower, which apparently I don't, we have to find a way to align our heart and our mind. 

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1 hour ago, laronius said:

unless we have an enormous amount of willpower, which apparently I don't

Read Atomic Habits. It talks about this. There is another book called “Willpower Doesn’t Work”. Simply put, will power is an unreliable source and that it should never play a role in our decision making not should we expect it to be of any assistance. It’s nice when it is there, but it is like that really cool uncle that never shows up when he says he will.

Edited by Fether

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21 minutes ago, Fether said:

Read Atomic Habits. It talks about this. There is another book called “Willpower Doesn’t Work”. Simply put, will power is an unreliable source and that it should never play a role in our decision making not should we expect it to be of any assistance. It’s nice when it is there, but it is like that really cool uncle that never shows up when he says he will.

You might want to check this guy out: 

 

https://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

The artificiality of goals has always left me cold. Unsurprisingly, I don't do well with them.

This is entirely me. And I bet most people are like this too.

I remember in my mission I found it so hard to buy in to my own goals. I always was consistently annoyed with my mission leadership’s attempt to get explain, training, and sell us on some abstract concept of the importance of goals. What I did find extremely helpful, and I didn’t have a word for it till a year or so ago, was I had systems in place for what I would do when I saw someone on the street. I knew how many people I would talk to each day, I knew my routine in the morning, and I knew how I would act in various situations. Those systems helped me become who I am today.

I still set goals, but my relationship with them and how I use them today is very different then years past.
 

I also find that having a vision of who I want to be is extremely helpful. Part of my morning routines is to imagine excellent versions of myself that align with who I want to be. For example, when I imagine myself as being called as the Prophet, I all of a sudden get an excitement to start memorizing scripture, develop Christlike attributes, and be an incredible husband and father.

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5 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

You might want to check this guy out: 

 

https://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

Ya! Atomic Habit is kind of a spiritual sequel to this book. I’ve read them both but Atomic Habit seemed far more digestible and applicable than the power of habit.

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13 minutes ago, Fether said:

Ya! Atomic Habit is kind of a spiritual sequel to this book. I’ve read them both but Atomic Habit seemed far more digestible and applicable than the power of habit.

I generally think goal setting works, within reason. A few years ago (ironically as a New Year's Resolution) I made a goal to get back into martial arts. I got my black belt two weeks ago. So goal setting works for me. 

Having said that, be reasonable. If you set a goal to play professional football and you haven’t left couch in seven years, we have a problem. 

Edited by LDSGator

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3 hours ago, Anddenex said:

@Fether Can you describe the difference between a system and a goal, and an example of what that might look like? Right now it appears like a great idea but more a semantic paradigm.

I'm curious about this as well. I've had Atomic Habits on my birthday/Christmas wishlist for a couple years now but it has been overlooked, so I haven't read it yet, but I've heard this concept of systems vs goals before and I'm not sure I see the distinction. Perhaps it's akin to what I would refer to as the difference between behaviour goals and outcome goals.

We can't directly control outcomes (i.e. drop xyz pounds, make X sales, etc.) But we can control behaviours (hit the gym, skip the sweets, talk to X people, ask for referrals, etc.) By leveraging behaviours associated with outcomes we move the needle by controlling what we can control. When we also fall short of our behaviour goals we can use these "failures" as good information gathering opportunities to learn what factors contributed to the lack of success one day or why on a different occasion we were successful. When sufficient info is collected it makes it easier to implement strategies to increase the success rate sticking to desired behaviours.

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3 hours ago, Anddenex said:

@Fether Can you describe the difference between a system and a goal, and an example of what that might look like? Right now it appears like a great idea but more a semantic paradigm.

Generally speaking, we would call them the same, but the book makes the distinction between the two.

Goals:

- Have a 6-pack

- Make $100,000

- Run a marathon

- lose 50 lbs

- Read 25 books

Systems:

- set an alarm every morning for 6am and exercise

- call 15 potential clients every day before I can have lunch to try and sell them my product

- Run 1 mile every night right when I get home from work

- meal prep every Saturday 

- listen to audible while I run and exercise. 

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12 hours ago, Fether said:

Generally speaking, we would call them the same, but the book makes the distinction between the two.

Goals:

- Have a 6-pack

- Make $100,000

- Run a marathon

- lose 50 lbs

- Read 25 books

Systems:

- set an alarm every morning for 6am and exercise

- call 15 potential clients every day before I can have lunch to try and sell them my product

- Run 1 mile every night right when I get home from work

- meal prep every Saturday 

- listen to audible while I run and exercise. 

Thank you. As I'm in Software Testing, my first thought of "systems" leaned me to thinking it was like a module in a software program. The modules are the systems that run the programs, and the programs are developed for a specific end goal.

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On 12/28/2021 at 10:40 AM, Anddenex said:

Thank you. As I'm in Software Testing, my first thought of "systems" leaned me to thinking it was like a module in a software program. The modules are the systems that run the programs, and the programs are developed for a specific end goal.

Which is really not that different, I suppose. The idea behind setting up these systems is no doubt still driven by a hope to reach a specific goal. It's not dissimilar from missionary goals being followed up with action items - something that can actually be acted on. Thus we can think of systems as being sets of action items that are focused on to still ultimately attaining a goal, at least if I'm understanding correctly. Perhaps a distinction would be that success is predicated on following the system and not attaining the goal... but at the same time if the end goal is not being attained but the system is being adhered to then it would inform the user that the system is failing, not the user, and thus the system needs to be adjusted. On the other hand, if the system is not being followed, the person needs to figure out why and follow it, but can't blame the system - they have to own up to not following through.

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