I want to make my life work. And by that I mean not just having a thriving business or career, but also a thriving marriage, thriving spiritual, emotional, social and physical life and a healthy, awesome relationship with my husband and kids. I mean my whole life. Because to me it’s pointless to pursue career/business success, only to sacrifice the things that really really matter – which is being there for those you love, loving life, doing something meaningful with your days and living with purpose. I’ve realised it requires a systems mindset.
I think everyone wants that. We just sometimes don’t know how to get it – we think we can only have one or the other. Well, I haven’t mastered at all (definitely not!), but I know something that helps : having a systems mindset.
You may have heard of having a system for your business, or if you’re an employee no doubt there are processes and procedures for what you do (ie some kind of system). All of it is intended to streamline what you do on a regular basis.
If you’re following a process for the tasks you do regularly at work, you’ll know that someone somewhere in the organisation (maybe even you), came up with a process at some point for doing what has to be done repeatedly in your job. That process probably consisted of a series of actions that they found led to the desired result or outcome.So someone probably documented it to make sure that it was done that way every time. If it’s not a good process though, undoubtedly it fails sometimes and probably causes you stress! And that’s not a sign that processes aren’t a good thing – but it’s a sign that the process needs tweaking.
Well, that process or ‘systems’ thinking can work the same way for your personal life too.
When you approach your whole life from a systems mindset, you can begin to isolate what is not working, find ways to tweak and change it, turn it into a repetitive process, and then do what works, repeatedly, instead of what doesn’t work – and in fact, cause it to work extremely well.
For those of you creative, spontaneous types, I know what you’re thinking – this probably sounds incredibly dull. Hang on a second – I’m creative and spontaneous too. I don’t ‘dig’ routine very much. Processes bore me. But I’ve learnt that by putting systems in place, you don’t have to give up your ability to be spontaneous and have an awesome amount of fun in your life. What this does do, is get rid of the chaos that ensues when we have no kind of system that works in our lives – and it actually makes room (and time) for the creative, spontaneous, awesome fun-loving experiences to happen!
I really got this understanding in a deep way from Sam Carpenter’s brilliant book, ‘Work the system’, where he describes how to approach your life by looking at all of the parts of it from an elevated, ‘outside-of-it’ point of view. After an epiphany, he applied it to both his business and firstly, his health. And it changed everything.
You can do the same.
And I’d encourage you to. Because if there’s a part of your life that is not working, then you have a dysfunctional system in that part of your life.
Look for the part of your life that is causing you the most headaches, stress or problems. Is it your health? Your energy levels? Is it your relationship with your spouse? Or the housework? You’ll find you either have no system for it, or the system needs serious improving!
Here’s a couple basic examples, (with my own unique names 😉 ), with things that can affect all of us –
1. Drowning in Paperwork at Home Recovery System
Are you constantly drowning in paperwork at home? Missing deadlines because you forgot to fill in that tax form, school permission slip for your child’s trip or annual renewal?
You need a system! Probably just a basic one, but a system nevertheless. Think of a process that involves you regularly sorting through, dealing with and filing your paperwork. In other words, create a system for it. Then work your system on a regular basis.
2. From Fatty Foods to Wholesomely Healthy System
Are you constantly eating unhealthily even though you want to change it? Your ‘healthy eating’ system is not in place.
You need a process that makes it super easy to eat healthy foods. Part of that process would involve things like pre-planned weekly menus and grocery lists, signs on the fridge, daily reminders of the benefits of eating healthily, accountability checks with a friend and whatever other parts of the process that would make it work. Whatever doesn’t work to get you eating healthy then needs tweaking and trying again. But without a workable ‘system’ to eat in a more healthy way, you’ll continue to eat unhealthily.
The reality is that our lives are the summation of what we do on a daily, weekly and by default, monthly, basis. And if you have a system in place, you’re more likely to do those daily things you know you really want to do, but somehow don’t get around to doing.
Try it today.
1. Think of a ‘system’ in your life that is really not working – the one causing you the most headaches.
2. Create a system/process that works. If needed, document it.
3. Now work that system – and tweak and improve as you go.
Yes, amazingly, this creative has been converted to systems thinking 🙂