Part Three: Sticking To Your Systems
Now that we’ve got a good start on codifying your systems, we’re going to talk about how to make sure you stick to them. This might be a pain in the ass at the get-go, but there’s a definite learning curve so to speak – it’ll get a lot easier to stick to your systems after a month or so of successfully using them.
Systems are nothing but sets of habits.
For this part of the process, it’s easiest to stop thinking in terms of “systems” and start thinking in terms of “habits”. After all, that’s what systems are – sets of habits that you follow, without having to struggle to do so, one habit after another. Right?
So, when we’re talking about sticking to your systems, we’re really talking about sticking to new habits. Which – lucky for us! – is a field that has been fairly extensively studied and written on.
Anchor habits & triggers
When you’re trying to add new habits into your life, a lot of people start out with sheer willpower – but that’s not how we want to do it! Willpower is a very finite resource so if you’re relying solely on it, there will be days when you’ll slip up whether out of laziness or sheer forgetfulness. We want to make adding these new habits as easy as possible. Which means, among other things, using two tools: anchor habits and triggers.
Anchor habits are habits, preferably positive (or at least neutral) habits, that you naturally gravitate towards doing on a regular basis. They can be used as a trigger to remind you to do something else, or as a reward for doing something else. You can add new habits using your anchor habits by putting something before, during, or after your anchor habits in your routine. The idea is that you’re already going to find it easy to do this anchor habit, so you find a way to strongly associate your new habit with the anchor habit – that way, you remember to do the new habit with the least amount of effort. You can read more about anchor habits and how to start using them to make new habits stick in this post right here. (I’m also reworking a class I taught on this topic and will be releasing it as a Kindle book + workbook soon – stay tuned.)
Triggers are…fairly self explanatory, really. You can use anchor habits as triggers but you can also easily create other triggers – reminders throughout your day to add this new habit that you’re working on. There are a lot of ways this can work:
- accountability – ask a team member or a friend to keep you accountable to the new plans/systems, check in with them on a daily or weekly basis
- your environment – you can put up reminders in your workspace, or have electronic reminders (something coming up on your computer screen or set as your desktop background), or if you’re trying not to do something, you can remove the temptation from your surroundings (this isn’t usually the case with adding new systems, but just in case…)
- a slight spin-off of environment is to have reminders go off on your phone – I’ve got some app suggestions below for that
Other tools & resources
- iPhone apps: Habit List ($1.99), Commit ($2.99)
- Android apps: Routinely (free), Habit Streak Pro ($2.99)
- Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success – I found this easy to read & they also reference a lot of scientific studies behind their assertions, so it’s not just assuming that something will work because it’s popular!
Any questions? Head on over to the Facebook page & let me know – I’d love to help you out.