Creating a System for Change
A plan for moving from Preparation to Action
When we talk weight loss, we talk a lot about "goals". I use the term frequently myself.
However, systems is the best word to describe the process of working toward what we wish to achieve.
What is the difference in Systems and Goals?
1. Systems set you up for continuous improvement. Goals without a system, never lead to continued success or achievement.
A perfect example of this is fad diets. Many of us spend years trying to lose weight by chasing the latest lose weight quick scheme.
The result? We lose weight only to regain it.
Why? We never created a lasting system by which to sustain our goal weight. We only worked on reaching the end goal: a number on the scales.
With a system, we sustain a set of habits that not only lead us to a our goal, but enable us to maintain that goal.
A system can also redirect us when we are faced with obstacles. A system contains contingency plans, alternate routes, and problem solving solutions.
In any occasion in life in which we have an end goal or a victory we wish to accomplish, there is a strategic plan or system in place in order to be victorious. A good plan will factor in obstacles or unforeseen hazards along with directions for overcoming each.
Systems are focused on sustainability and are designed to incorporate a practice into our daily lives.
2. Systems are scalable. A goal is simply a thing we wish to achieve.
A system is the process or actions we incorporate to achieve the goal.
Systems go beyond just a goal. It is the plan in which to attain the goal. It is the blueprint, the game plan, the road map, the outline, the instruction manual, or the design.
Goals are great. Goals are essential. Without them, we have no direction. However, goals do not come with directions on how to reach them. That is why we need a system.
3. Systems help our support system understand what we need.
Those dearest to us can be the very people who sabotage our efforts. Mainly because they do not understand what we need to be successful. More importantly, what we need from them by way of support.
Having a system helps family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and accountability partners help us.
4. Systems create a long term mindset. Goals alone are just an endpoint.
With systems, you continue to succeed well after you have achieved your goal. By committing to the process, you create habits that stick with you.
It becomes your lifestyle.
So much worry comes with losing weight because most of us do not know how to keep it off. And, regaining weight lost is a very common problem.
There are many factors in play when it comes to weight regain and often it is inevitable. Having a system, new habits, and a new lifestyle will be the game changer. If weight regain happens, you have plan to get back on track.
Without a system, regain leads to feelings of failure. We can feel helpless and hopeless. Often, we gain back all we have lost plus some.
A system acts as a security net. It also keeps our mind focused on what we can control because we have a plan in place to control any setbacks.
And the most important difference in systems and goals:
5. Systems allows you to enjoy the process and not delay your happiness until you have reached the goal.
Raise your hand if you are guilty of this.
When we start our weight loss journey, we tell ourselves, "I will do this when I have lost ___ weight".
I will go on that vacation, wear that dress, go to the gym, take my kids to the water park, go hiking, have family photos made, etc... when I have lost the weight.
We hit the pause button on our life because we are waiting to reach a goal which we have decided will make us happy.
If we create a system, we are actively working toward that goal without the goal defining us. We are not putting our lives on pause.
By incorporating small, consistent changes, we can accomplish our goals with little pain or disruption to our lives.
We can focus on small victories while still enjoying the journey.
From a professional standpoint, creating a system is the only logical approach to weight loss and maintaining weight. This is a chronic condition and should be treated as such.
If you were diagnosed with diabetes, would you put your life on hold until you were no longer a diabetic? Of course not.
You would alter your eating habits, take your prescribed medication, and make lifestyle changes to improve your blood sugar. But you would continue to live. You would continue to enjoy life.
So it should be for losing weight.
As the holiday season approaches, this point is very important to make. Many of you are feeling anxious about the upcoming meals, potlucks, parties, ongoing days of food parading under your nose.
Just because you are working on self improvement, losing weight, and establishing a healthier lifestyle does not mean you have to skip the holidays. In fact, you do not have to give up your favorite holiday foods.
With a good system in place, you have a plan for tackling the holidays. A plan that allows you to enjoy friends, family, and the food you love without the guilt or setback.
Take time this week to write down what worries you most about the upcoming holidays and how it will impact your weight loss. Then, devise a plan or "system" to navigate the holidays without destroying your hard work and progress while allowing yourself to enjoy the season.
Share your plan/system with us by commenting on this blog post! And, if you have not signed up to receive each blog I post via email, do that now so that you never miss one!
"The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game."
- James Clear
Author, Atomic Habits