Much of our success in life, both financially and otherwise, hinges on the systems we have in place. Regular sleep, a clutter-free work environment, meal preparation, fitness routines, paying our bills on time — everything we do requires a modicum of order and a particular way of doing things. I must confess that I’m not the best when it comes to keeping things neat as a pin.
As a kid, my desk never received one of those special awards from the teacher. In high school, my locker was so atrocious, that it was actually photographed in all its messy glory with my chaos forever documented in the yearbook. Successful systems don’t dictate your house to be spotless, looking like no one lives there. What they do require is intentional planning and forethought. These tips will help you achieve your goals in any area of your life by rethinking your systems.
Clarify your purpose
What is it that you would most like to achieve? Way too many of us take on too many goals at once. The result is exhaustion with very few measurable results. Channel your energy into one particular goal or area of improvement and declare it to be your focus for a set period of time. Certainly there will be time for other goals and you can multitask, but for six days or six weeks or six months or six years, this primary concentration will have your primary attention. Once you’ve succeeded, you can re-evaluate and again choose another objective.
Your goal should be constantly filtered through your decision making process, no matter what you’re doing. Since this isn’t always second nature, it’s a great idea to place visual reminders in your path so you’re kept on the path to success.
For instance, while we were in the process of paying off $127,000 in debt, each time another bill was paid in full, we wrote the date on the final statement and stapled it to a pile of other bills magneted to our refrigerator. That stack of bills was passed every time we came into or left our home.
Every time we walked by, we were reminded of our current journey and struggle. We were encouraged to continue fighting the good fight and filter every dollar (and minute) spent through the lens of our aim.
You might choose to place a quotation at your desk at work or an adhesive note on your dashboard. Maybe you’ll pin a message to your wallet or simply change the desktop wallpaper on your computer. Make sure you place visual reminders in your path so that you interact with your goal on a regular basis throughout your day.
Ask for help
If you’re seeking to improve in a particular pursuit, odds are mastering it won’t come naturally to you. You need to seek out the wisdom of others who have had success in that particular area. It’s not natural to admit weakness and request assistance. However, having a mentor or friend guide you through the process is incredibly valuable. You’ll be able to turn to that individual when you’re struggling most and learn what specific methods helped them achieve their goals. Someone will always be smarter and more accomplished than you are and that’s OK. Lean into their experience to enhance your own.
I love a good beginning. A nascent experience has its own special energy, filled with opportunity, adventure and hope. The end of a matter is even better. You’re filled with a sense of achievement and maybe even a little pride (the good kind, not the kind that comes before a fall).
You know what’s not as fun? The middle. The middle smells of an achy angst. The newness of chasing your goals wears off and there’s fatigue. You begin to question whether your sacrifice and intentionality is really worth it. This is precisely why it’s wise to set small goals within a greater larger purpose and celebrate them well. It could be a weekend away or a night out on the town. You might purchase new running shoes or an electronic device. Or you may simply take a day off to rest.
Pause to reflect on what you’ve been able to achieve thus far and then refocus your energy to continue on the journey toward the greater goal. Stipulate gradual bite-sized steps within your greater aim to fuel momentum and combat boredom and weariness.
For each and everyone of us systems geared for success look incredibly different. Some can function in a flurry of papers. Others require lists and calendars. No matter how the process filters out for you, most of your battle will be fought in the mind. Take time to deliberately formulate your plan of attack and achieve your dreams.
Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. Send questions, column ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org