Systems: the key to actual change

February eve. 

Wow, that was fast. 

At this point in the year, most of us fall into one camp or another: either feeling the momentum of our 2024 changes or feeling completely behind. 

For the record, I love February for a great reset. The superficial mindset of new year, new you has worn off and the real change-makers are building momentum through practice or they’re using this new month to rethink where they are and how to redesign from here.

We all get to choose.

Momentum is dependent on a lot of variables. We’ve talked about the one everyone thinks of first. Goals, goals, goals. Yes, we need solid goals and a solid why. 

This isn’t the part that ultimately keeps us from momentum and progress, however.

Because goals aren’t your problem. It’s the systems in place (or not) that make them happen. 

James Clear famously said in his bestselling book Atomic Habits:

We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.

Maybe you think systems sound complex. 

They don’t have to be. 

A system is simply a collection of steps and behaviors that ensure a result.

Let’s take an easy example:

Let’s say my goal is to walk Winnie and Birdie more consistently. It’s been cold and January is busy. This matters for two reasons:

  1. They need it for their health and it keeps them from looking for trouble.
  2. It also helps me. I get a clearer head, better movement and I’m nicer to be around :). It sets the tone for my entire day. Why would I miss that?

So, how do we begin to create a system that works?

First I set the goal: What would success look like here? I name the number of days and length that qualifies as increased consistency for me. I set the specifics so that I know when I’m actually hitting the goal.

Then I create the system:

  • Sundays I calendar the days and duration (checking weather)
  • Hang their leashes & bags in the same spot
  • Tell my people it’s non-negotiable
  • Follow the plan (system)

Yes it sounds simple, because it is! When it’s too complicated, you won’t follow through. This is both the beauty AND the reason so many don’t hit their goals.

This applies to bigger goals, too. 

One of the most important goals for me for 2024 was to create more experiences in my life that stretch me and call me deeper with myself and my people.

Here’s what happened around that:

I set the goal: one big thing for the year, one new experience each month and two habits/quarter. 

I bought the Big A## calendar so I was forced to look at the reality of a year’s time all in one sitting.

I game planned with Woody and my team.

Then I booked the Misogy > that year-defining thing. It was a solo retreat to New Mexico and I wrote this from that space. Still amazed that I DID IT. (#systems!)

Staying intentional, I also booked additional trips and experiences throughout the first half of this year like I’ve never done before. These experiences and adventures could be big or small, but I wanted them to matter and I wanted them to be totally different from the way I usually show up. 

Systems used to feel like rocket science to me because I didn’t follow through and then assumed it was because it was HARD. 

Don’t fall for that lie. It’s simple, but we need a plan and that plan is a system. It IS your follow-through.

So if you’re feeling behind right NOW, simply go back to the basics

  • What did you want to create more of? Pick one small goal first.
  • Why does that matter to you? Write down the payoff you get when you follow through.
  • What is your system? What are the simplest steps to making that goal happen for you?
  • Follow the steps.

Let’s go. It’s February and you still can.

I would LOVE to hear about the systems you are creating! We all need inspiration. Email me yours at [email protected].