2021: Think New Systems, Not New Goals

January is almost over and it’s about this time that we can start to lose momentum towards the goals we set at the beginning of the month. The sad truth is, most goals do fail. Motivation alone isn’t enough to fuel a new you.

So what’s the trick to true change? New Systems.

New Systems = New You

Building new systems will absolutely change your life. I can attest to this because I radically improved my own health and fitness in 2020 by applying this concept.

What the heck is a “system” anyway? A system is a way of setting up your life for success. For example, if I want to start drinking more water this year I need to set up my environment so that I’m more likely to drink more water. My system could involve making sure I have lemons on hand so I enjoy drinking water more. It may also involve not having other beverages easily available to me.

So how do you create new systems? It’s way easier than you’d think and it can absolutely change your life.

Ok, before I go any further, I need to give credit to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, for introducing me to this concept. I read his book in January of 2020 and used my own fitness journey as an experiment. The idea behind Atomic Habits is that small changes lead to big results.

Let’s talk about how this can apply to mental health. If you’re trying to overcome depression or anxiety, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. Thinking about very small changes that you can make to your life will get you some momentum and those small changes begin to add up.

With depression, it’s important to determine your actions based on what you know to be true, not by what you feel. When I’ve been depressed, I certainly don’t feel like getting out of bed, but I know that if I don’t I’ll only feel worse in the long run. What is a system I can put in place to help me get out of bed? First I have to think about what is making it so hard to get out of bed. For one, I noticed that I really don’t like being cold so staying in my warm bed seems all the more appealing. Something as simple as putting slippers next to my bed every night and a nice warm sweater made it all the easier to get up. The next step was having a yummy coffee to drink… next was having some nice music playing… All of these little things created a new way of living out my mornings every day but help me especially if I’m struggling with a bout of seasonal depression.

Anxiety is another common struggle. When we feel anxious, it’s important to notice what small things could be making it worse. Some people may need to simply drink less caffeine in order to help alleviate anxious symptoms. Make that easy and enjoyable by getting yourself some delicious herbal tea to look forward to. Limiting social media is another small habit change that can decrease anxiety. This habit can be decreased by setting a social media limit on your phone.

See how the idea is to set up your life so you can easily do what makes you feel good? When it’s easy and enjoyable, you are more likely to live that way.

I hope you will consider what small changes you can make and systems you can put in place in order to live the life you want to live and be the person you want to be. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions as to how this can be applied to your life.


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