As much as we want to pursue control in all spheres of our lives, sometimes we just fall victims to our old habits and spiral out of the so-desired control. As James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits” said:
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems“
This is the reason why most people don’t stick with their New Year’s resolutions, among other things. It’s one thing to say you will exercise every day of 2021, and a completely another thing to go out and actually lift the heavy weights and run the distance. Goals are supposed to serve as a general direction for our efforts, but instead, we use them as a substitution for the effort itself. It is much easier and, well, more pleasant to dream about getting the 6-pack abs than to actually diet and train your core.
If you imagine your life as a machine of your own making, it would work like this.
- You create all those systems and automation to keep your progress in check (setting up habits, reminders, getting accountability buddies, putting deadlines on projects)
- You put the effort without relying on extrinsic motivation too heavily
- You “maintain“ your systems by comparing your results with your expectations
This sounds like a perfect plan, except that it assumes one thing – that you can detach yourself emotionally from the process and just act on the things you have set out to do.
However, this often proves difficult.
Learn about the pros and cons of unintentional habit stacking in this helpful article.