Improve your Life; Improve your Finances

In Praise of Systems

Trust me… this is going somewhere

Which of the following is better:

Being able to consistently shoot free throws or occasionally shoot three point goals?

Finishing a couple books on a random weekend that you were free or finding time to always finish one book a month?

Should I write one hour a day or should I aim to write seven hours a week?

What about having a large financial windfall versus increasing your monthly income by a few thousand dollars?

Solid consistent progress is always more valuable than one-off successes. Being reliable means that you know the results you are going to get. That reliability breeds confidence and that confidence leads to success. How do you get reliable results then? With a thorough and repeatable system!

Systems are amazing and I’m sure everything humans have ever accomplished has been thanks to repeatable systems. Why is my grandma’s chili so good? Because she does the exact same thing every time, and it’s the same thing her mama did and if I do it just like she does then I will be able to make the same great tasting chili, Yum!

The tasty, forementioned, chili!

Back on track, if you have something you want to succeed at, then build a system to achieve it. Don’t expect success to land in your lap by putting a lot of work in once or twice, like you did with high school book reports. Learn to build a reliable, repeatable system and you will be able to consistently reach your goals. If you’re committed to building a system and reaching success, here is how you do it.

Find a Goal, Find Gold

First, figure out what your goal is. And I mean really figure it out, none of this “well… I wanna have more money.”

  • Exactly how much more do you want?
  • Do you want it on a monthly basis?
  • What are you going to do with the money?
  • Why do you want the money?

I’m not an oracle asking because I want to know if your motivations are pure. I want you to know why you want it. The better you can visualize the goal the more motivated you will be. Write down the exact details of the goal. Perhaps it goes something like this:

“I want to save $3,000 by the end of 2017 so I can go on a 3 month trip to Europe in 2018.”

That goal is great and I can see the pile of money just reading it. I know why you want it, I know you will reach it, and I know what you’re going to do with it!

Plan Like It’s A Heist

Now that you have a detailed goal, you need a detailed plan. Break it down into bite size chunks, like the bacon in my grandma’s chili.

The Bacon, pre bite-sized-bitted

In the case of savings, figure out how much you need to save per month. Then figure out what you are going to do each month to pull in that extra $250 in cash. Maybe you can achieve this by working extra hours, eliminating an expense in your life, that you don’t want as badly as this trip, or by producing extra income on the side.

Make this detailed too! You might say “I am going to pick up some extra work once a week which will make me another $50/week. I will also stop going out to the bar with my pals every weekend since that isn’t as fun as Europe will be. Cutting expense out will save me $100/month. Together that’s an increase of $300 in savings, so I’m doing better than expected!”

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

You have a detailed plan now follow it like I follow my nose when I smell my grandma’s chili. Follow the plan for a bit and observe your successes and your failures.

One of the best parts of making the chili is that when you leave it cooking the whole day your apartment smells like chili when you get home.

This is the part where it becomes a system and is no longer a lifeless plan. Sure plans are great, but unless they are acted on they are just lifeless, like the Wicked Witch of the East under Dorothy’s house. I can get plans for building a house but it won’t ever become a house unless I follow them.

Work, Work, Work!

By observing the plan you can figure out which parts work and which parts don’t. Maybe it is really easy to pick up extra hours at work but you have a hard time cutting back on guy’s night out spending. These are invaluable things to notice when building your system.

One of the best things about a system is that if you don’t reach the goal you didn’t fail, your system failed. It is much easier to observe the failure of a system than the failure of yourself.

Separate these two entities, the self, and the system, in your mind! It is easier to modify a system than it is to mentally modify yourself. By shifting the location of failure you can reach success quicker and happier.

Leave Some Change Take Some Change

As soon as you notice part of your plan isn’t helping you achieve your goal change it. In the example, above you found it is easy to get extra hours at work but it is very hard to cut out that weekend pub crawls with the gang. Modify the plan to focus on finding more time to work and try having fewer beers at the bar. If cutting back on the beers works, great! If not, get creative and think of a new strategy. Learn what works for you and play to your strengths!

Lather, Rinse, and Repeat

Repeat the plan until you reach your goal. If you’re extra cool (pronounced nerdy) then you can document the system and use it again in the future. This way when you return from your vacation in Europe, you can save up for another trip, or tell your friends how to do it… maybe in the form of a blog.

Share your plan with others. Much like how I shared the chili with my stomach, and my friends.

What is a system you want to build? What’s your plan to build it? Do you already have a system in your life that works well? Share it below so that others can reach the success that you did. If you need help building a system reach out to me. I love putting my analytical brain to use, especially to the benefit of others!

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