Atomic Habits and Systems Thinking

Who doesn’t love to have a grand vision for their life? We hear so often that it’s essential to focus on where we want to go. Talking about how we get there is not quite as exciting. How we get there can feel weedy and complex and it is probably the reason that so many of our dreams remain lofty and inaccessible.

When our Director of Operations, Tim Lucier suggested reading Atomic Habits by James Clear to help me create systems for success, my reaction was muted. Like the enthusiasm I have for drinking greens. I even associate the word habit with things like routine, self discipline and lack of inspiration.

It only took about 5 pages into the book to change my thoughts, another 5 pages to rock my boat, and now ⅔ through the book, I am noticing a sea change of incremental adjustments that are delivering on the promise of exponential results.

It’s not just systems-thinking that Clear helps us to develop, it is the way he teaches us to think about behaviours and to make it easy to be successful. Here’s an example. I move around quite a bit with my job and when I am not in my home, I am always looking for my keys, or my hat or my sunglasses and so on.

After some observation, I realized the solution was to create a mobile version of what keeps me organized at home. It also needs to be nested so that essential items are stored within a larger bag that fits the purpose. To be successful, I have to take a second to put things back into their place so I can track consistently toward more of the outcomes I want to see. In this case, to consistently have the items I need at hand.

I realize it doesn’t sound like a grand accomplishment, but imagine how smoothly the action following that one will go and the time I will save when I reach into a pocket and the keys are always there. Clear encourages us to start with something small and build our enthusiasm for a habit in a durable way. He reassures us that success is inevitable because we have built a system that supports it.

Tim, who suggested the book to me, is someone who models habit-systems personally and for our organization at an adept level. He is hosting a retreat each fall at the Edge called The Habit Reset. If you have a muted reaction to the word habit as I did, this retreat is specifically for you. I whole-heartedly recommend it.

Tim will breakdown the components of a habit and help you practice it in a supportive environment that makes it fun, and easy to do the behaviours that lead you to the grand and lofty vision you have for your life. Atomic Habits by James Clear is just one of the many sources he draws from to create your own sea change. The first step is easy. Just click on the link to read more.

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