Hello, friend! Today we’re going to be doing a deep dive into the idea of systems for busy moms and why they are actually better than goals.
Wait, what? Hold the phone! Did the personal growth junkie just say systems are better than GOALS? Yep, sure did!
So first, we need to start off by defining what a system is. In John Maxwell’s book, 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, he defines a system as “a process for predictably achieving a goal, based on specific, orderly, repeatable principles and practices. Systems are deliberate, intentional and practical” (109). I couldn’t have said it better myself. In busy mom terms, a system is repeatable actions to achieve a specific outcome.
I can honestly say that I live on systems. And I definitely thrive on systems for busy moms. I have systems for working out, for taking notes, for organizing my life (hello, MAP Book, you’re so pretty), grocery shopping and cleaning.
Before we dive further though, I want to clarify one thing for all you busy moms out there. If you don’t have systems yet, that is OK. If your goal is to clean the house once a week and that’s all you can take on right now, rock on – you’re doing great. This is definitely level 2 on the personal growth triangle, so be sure to keep that in mind.
In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, the author reminds us of the difference between goals and systems. A goal, according to Clear, is about achievable results. But a system is about a process that leads to results.
Let’s take that cleaning goal again as an example. A goal would be “I want a clean house, once a week”. A system would be “I am going to tackle one 10-minute cleaning task a day to ensure I have a clean house each week.” See the difference? One is a process, one is a “you either did or you didn’t” kind of goal.
The cool thing about systems for busy moms is that once you set it, you can forget it. I established my cleaning system a year ago, in 2021. On Mondays, I dust; Tuesdays, I vacuum, etc. etc. Now, I don’t even have to put it on my daily to do list because it is just what I do. I don’t have to think about it and it’s super easy to delegate. If I can’t do it on Monday morning while my daughter’s eat breakfast, I ask my husband if he can do it after work.
My favorite quote from James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, is that “you do not rise to the level of goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” It is so true. If you are new to setting goals and find yourself on level one of the triangle, you may just be gathering information at this point. Level 2 is really where you start to develop more advanced systems, depending on the complexity.
But just for haha’s, let’s say you’re on level one of the triangle. P.S. If you’re listening and have no idea what I’m talking about, the personal growth triangle is something I introduced in Episode 3: 3 Hacks for Jumpstarting Your Personal Growth Journey. If you’re curious where you fall on the personal growth triangle, you can check out this link for the free assessment.
OK, back to the scenario. If you’re on level 1 of the triangle, you might decide you need a system for working out. Your goal is to lose 25 pounds, but you keep starting and stopping, trying different things and aren’t hitting your goal. Most people get frustrated here. But what they don’t realize is it’s not the goal’s fault. You need a system to get to the goal.
So what could your system be? For me, my working out system is to pick an at-home program (I use BeachBody on Demand, as does my husband) that usually lasts about 8 weeks. My system is to complete the workout at 5am every morning and do at least 7000 steps. On rest days, I walk 10,000 steps and do yoga. That’s my system. There’s no thinking, other than deciding on the program and setting my alarm.
Some of my other basic systems include my MAP Book (which you know about), marriage check-ins, morning routine, budgeting and cleaning.
Of course, you know me at this point. I have some more complex systems as well, such as how I plan my weeks and lay out my daily plans. But I decided once, and now I depend on the system. It’s that easy!
So how can you create a system for yourself? First, pick a system on Level 1 of the triangle. Try to choose the one thing that you know you need a system for, or the thing that will make the biggest impact for your goals.
Have you picked something? Awesome. Now, this is the challenging part: what matters most about your system? What is the most simple way to accomplish it?
Let’s say you chose budgeting. You may have to do some foundational work to set yourself up, like creating a budget with your partner, maybe tracking some spending. But after that is done, what is your system for checking in on the budget? Are you going to log on every day and update a spreadsheet? Are you going to have a budget meeting once a week with your partner? Are you going to calibrate your budget daily, weekly, monthly? It seems overwhelming to make all these decisions, but remember, you only have to do it once.
Once these decisions are made, it’s time to implement them.
You need to make your system super visible so that you have a constant reminder of what you are trying to establish. When I am establishing a system, I write that action step in my Big 3 on my to do list every day in my MAP Book. So if I was establishing a budgeting system, I would write “Check on budget” (10 minutes) on my daily to do list. I would do this every day (or every week), until it became automatic.
I did that for our cleaning routine, and now if the kids are eating breakfast, I just need to remember what day it is to know what task I’m doing.
Keep it simple and before you know it, you’ll be basking in the glow of a productive system that is getting you to your goals.
Are you starting to see why I am way more obsessed with systems than goals?!
OK, friends, we made it: LET’S MAKE A PLAN!
In your MAP Book, take a second to jot down any systems you currently have. Then make a list of systems you WISH you had. Remember, take it slow to establish that firm foundation. Choose one system and work the process. What are your action steps? What decisions do you need to make?
Be sure to subscribe on Spotify or YouTube so you don’t miss next week’s episode: Episode 7: How to Design Your Ideal Day as a Busy Mom. No matter what season of life you’re in, you’re not going to want to miss this episode!
Did you have a chance to check out last week’s episode? It was all about how I use a quarterly reflection to celebrate my wins and plan for the upcoming quarter. If you missed it, be sure to download it to check it out after this episode!
Finally, if you are new around here and haven’t already, hop on over to my Instagram page – @sharonlegercoaching. On my IG stories this week, I am going to be giving you a BTS look at 2 of my favorite systems that I use as a busy mom.
Thank you so much for being here, mama! Get back to doing your thing, rocking your world and remember – keep growing! Little eyes are watching.
If so, be sure to share it with a friend – this helps busy moms like you to find me!
And finally, you can also check out these related episodes that I think you’ll be obsessed with: