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New habits for a new year

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems,” James Clear, Atomic Habits


Have you set goals for 2023? 

Personally, I’ve never been good at goal-setting, which is a surprise to many of my friends in the industry. They ask me about my goals, and I stare at them blankly, blinking occasionally. It’s always quite awkward.

To me, setting a goal without a step-by-step plan to achieve it is a waste of time. I’d rather work on the steps than the goal.


Individual steps are infinitely easier to implement


If executed properly, even a tiny step provides immediate positive reinforcement rather than waiting months or longer to achieve a distant goal.

It’s like declaring you’re going to lose 50 pounds and then changing nothing about yourself, except now you “try” to eat less and exercise more.

Using willpower alone, you will likely lose zero pounds. In fact, you will probably gain ten pounds due to the extra stress of “failing” at your stated goal. “Oh well, might as well scarf down this pizza.”

Conversely, you decide to quit all fatty, salty, and sugary foods—cold turkey—and work out for an hour every day.

 You gain fifteen pounds.

 Hey, I’m not trying to sabotage your resolutions! On the contrary, even though I’m not great at it, setting goals is good!

 But the truth is that very few of us can make major changes in our lives on sheer willpower alone. I know for sure I can’t.

I’ll tell you a secret about myself. I’m just as lazy as you are.

Virtually all of us humans are naturally lazy. This is probably a leftover trait from our cavemen ancestors who needed to conserve energy before the next mastodon hunt. I say “probably” because I’m too lazy to look it up.

I tell people I’m lazy, and they don’t believe me. “Oh, Ted! If you’re so lazy, how do you get so much done? Huh? Answer me that!”



Systems and Procedures


I use systems and procedures for the sole purpose of making my life easier. If I didn’t have systems and procedures, I’d have to work twice as hard to accomplish the same amount. Yuck!

I’ve developed systems and procedures to ensure I work as little as possible. I honestly don’t get why other lazy people don’t use better systems and procedures.

I see other agents constantly run off their feet, accomplishing very little, and I shake my head. I’d hate to have to work that hard. How stressful.

 These types seem to enjoy telling people how busy they are, and they are indeed extremely busy! The trouble is they’re not accomplishing much.

Instead, they’re blindly running down every rabbit hole, trying every new hair-brained scheme, and fixing mistakes they should never have made. All because they have no focus and terrible (or non-existent) systems and procedures.

 Here’s the point of this article: Achieving any goal begins with implementing better systems and procedures.

And better systems and procedures begin with better habits. 

I suggest you start with the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.

 This is the best book I’ve ever read on developing better habits (and eliminating bad ones). I started reading it on New Year’s Day (16 days ago) by pure fluke, and I’m already implementing several tiny but highly impactful changes to my life.

Do I have goals?

Sure, but I don’t worry about achieving them. I know I’ll get there. How? By adding (or eliminating) one little habit at a time.

If you decide to read Atomic Habits, please let me know how you’re doing with it! I’m planning on keeping this book nearby and referring to it frequently.

 All the best in 2023