You may have heard that creating a routine, otherwise known as a system, is a very important step in creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
Today we are going to take a look at that idea and I am going to give you five steps to make great systems in your life that work.
You need to understand this concept or you will eventually fall back into what is easiest (no exercise, no energy and eating crap).
I want you to take a minute and think of a time in your life that using a system has served you.
Think of your voice mail message: “Please leave your name and number after the tone and I will get back to you.”
When I hear that recording, I know exactly what to do next. And when you get my message, you call me back.
That is a system that works.
Now let’s take a recipe.
It consists of a list of ingredients and amounts. If you follow the instructions step by step, you will end up with relatively the same result every time.
This is another good system.
When you are taking a plane, the airport has a set of directions you must take before you can board the plane. You must check in by a certain time, then you check your bags and then you go through security.
That is the system that the airports have put in place to keep order and safety and you have to follow the system to board your plane.
Imagine if these systems were not in place and you could just show up to the airport whenever you want and decide what you would rather do first? There would be chaos.
Some people would choose to go through security first because then they could load up their bags with nail files and contact solution and whatever other dangerous stuff they wanted since… hey… they have already been through security!
And others (ahem… not me) would show up late every time, demanding that everyone hold whatever it is they are doing to make sure to get me (I mean them) on that damn plane!
But those things do not happen because there are systems in place that you and all the staff at the airport must follow before the airplane can take off.
What is a system?
Systems are step-by-step instructions that detail what needs to be done first, second and third in order to achieve a desired outcome.
I have seen businesses become exponentially more successful once they have implemented simple to follow systems.
I have also seen people get exponentially healthier once they have implemented our simple to follow systems for creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
The more clear the system, the better the outcome.
If you want to get more fit (the desired outcome), you go the gym three to five times a week on set days (the system).
If you want to eat healthier, you meal plan and grocery shop every week and you cook every day (although there are ways to get around cooking everyday). The planning, the shopping and the recipes are systems that are supporting the desired outcome of healthier eating.
If you want to get more sleep, then you turn off electronics in the evening and do something relaxing. You choose a set bedtime and waketime and you stick to it most of the time. This is a bedtime system (also known as a routine).
This is how you systematize your health:
By doing so, you take the guesswork out of what your routine should be and your outcome becomes predictable. Regular, proper exercise results in better fitness. Meal-planning results in healthier eating.
This is such a simple concept and once you understand it you can see that it applies to every area of your life.
Why are systems so important?
I first realized the importance of using systems when I started my business (Eat By Design Coaching). Over time the systems mindset started to take over my personal life as well.
I noticed that when I put every task into my calendar (yes, another system) I was able to get everythingaccomplished. I started scheduling in family time, work time and personal time.
I created a system for cleaning the house that meant that I didn’t have to think about what I would do first. Now I can just put on my favorite podcast and go on automatic mode because I know exactly in what order I will clean everything.
Without systems chaos ensues. You try doing things differently every time and that leads to a different outcome every time. The outcome is not predictable and it may not be what you hoped for.
Here is a simple example of how a lack of a system affected my life:
I like to go to the six a.m. gym class. But I had no system in place for getting ready and out the door in time for class. And this was a challenge for me. I would often back out of the class because I woke up late and did not have a gym outfit ready to go. It was 5:40 a.m., I was disorganized and I did not feel like searching around the house like a madwoman so instead I would go back to bed.
Guess what happened next?
A new system was born. I put together two gym outfits and I found a shelf for them live. They go from my body, to the wash to their shelf and now I never have to search for my gym clothes. I also thought about how much time I really needed to get ready. I started getting up fifteen minutes earlier. That means I go to the gym. System created. Time and energy saved. Desired outcome achieved… yes it works.
How to create your own systems:
If there is something that you are going to do repeatedly, big or small, it is worth the time and effort to sit down and say:
- What is the desired outcome?
- What are all the possible ways to achieve it?
- Then choose the one that works best for you and write down all the steps required to do so.
- Follow the steps every time.
- Refine the system over time.
Will systems make my life boring?
I know that the idea of using systems to run your life can be very overwhelming for certain personality types. It sounds so stifling, like there is no freedom or spontaneity.
That is actually the opposite of the truth.
I am one of those people who fought systems tooth and nail. I pity the managers I worked for before I discovered that systems actually create more freedom, fun and excitement in your life because they allow you to do what needs to be done efficiently and then you have the time to do whatever the heck else you want in your life.
If you have been ready to get started creating your healthy lifestyle but you are overwhelmed because it feels like a gigantic task, you may just need to get the key systems in place.
And I can help you with that. Our 90 minute Strategy Session is exactly what you need to identify the key systems you are missing and we will show you exactly how to fit those systems into your life.
So take five minutes right now and identify at least one system that you need to implement in order to improve your health. Follow the five steps above to create that system. Then use it. I would love to hear what systems you are going to implement. Let me know in the comment section below.
And while we are at it, here is a ready-for-you system that you can follow for the next 7 days! Get our FREE 1-Week By Design, real food meal plan here.