Focus on systems, not goals.
Since 2012, when I took a travel writing course, I wanted to write a book. This was my goal.
It is now 2021. The book hasn’t happened. I have pitched this goal. Instead, I made a system.
I got so sick of myself not writing. It was too big of a goal to write a book and I felt paralyzed.
Like wanting eight pack abs, one goal for me was to show up and write. This goal wasn’t working. I didn’t have a well-designed system in place. I atrophied.
James Clear, the best-selling author of Atomic Habits, says that massive change occurs over time in small increments.
He tells the story of an ice cube sitting in a warming room.
At 25 degrees, ice is ice. Nothing exciting happens.
At 26 degrees, ice is still ice, yet at the molecular level, things are changing.
At 27 degrees, same story.
At 32 degrees, BOOM! Now we have water.
No one can see the small molecular changes happening in those 7 degrees of change. To the outside observer, it is as if all the change happens instantly.
Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.James Clear, Atomic Habits
Now I have a system in place.
It took me a long time with other projects (photography, healthcare drug waste, comic strip, a children’s plush animal for a book) and sunk costs to realize what was and wasn’t working. And that is okay. Those previous experiences are all part of the building process.
I am writing.
The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain the habits associated with it.James Clear, Atomic Habits
It is motivating for me to look back and connect the dots. It is more exciting to imagine and plan for a brighter future. It starts now. When asked, “Are you a writer?” What do you say?
Thanks for reading,