Sunday, February 23, 2014

Setting the System

Back in January when everyone was sharing inspirational new-year, new-start, new-you posts, I came across this article about the difference between setting a goal and using a system. It was not earth-shattering for me at the time, and I even scoffed a little, thinking that there is not a lot of difference between the two. The idea kept floating around in the back of my mind, however, and I finally decided to try it out.

My first system-setting guinea pig was budgeting. I have to admit that for most of last year, I did not pay a lot of attention to our family budget, even though I have a rockin' budgeting program. I just knew that we had "enough" and checked the accounts occasionally to make sure everything was okay. I knew I wanted to do better this year, so the goal became: Make and keep a budget. There. It is written. I have overcome the "A goal not written is only a wish" problem. But the goal will not keep itself. So I added the system: Update the budget every Wednesday. This seemed doable. We get paid every other Wednesday (boy, do I hate that system... would much rather be on the 1st and 15th...) so the timing was right, and Wednesday is the day that I am the least pulled in a million directions.

Well guess what: It worked. I set up that system in the second week of January and have checked the budget every Wednesday since. I even look forward to it because I know that it is quick and painless, and it helps me stay on track with my goal and check something good off my ever-growing, never-ending to-do list. I know that I cannot set up a system for everything all at once. Life is too unpredictable, and I don't want to set myself up for failure. But I have added a couple of small things to my system over the last few weeks. So far, so good. Then last week, I had this nagging feeling that I should try to blog again. Ugh. I am not good at it. It takes too much time. I want to include too much. No one cares. Nope, there it was again - the idea that I should blog about our time here. Fine. How to do it? I added it to my system. Blog once a month, on the last Sunday of the month, a quick rundown of what we have been up to. No pressure. Not perfect. And look - here I am. I have been sick in bed all weekend, but I couldn't end the night without writing an entry. No apologizing about how long it has been (2 years, yikes!). No promises going forward. I'm not even adding pictures (though you know I have them!). I'm just going to try to keep with my system, adjust here and there, and see what happens.

So what have we been up to this new year? Here is a rundown:


  • Church starts at 9:00. Boo. I think they gave me a Sunday calling at the end of last year knowing I would need it to get me there every week.
  • I turned 40. Another boo.
  • Jonah and Noah got to spend a weekend in Switzerland with the Boy Scouts at the Klondike Derby. It was good, cold fun.
  • Vienna started attending American school. There were lots of reasons we switched from German school, but we are all happier now and it has been a smooth transition.


  • Elijah competed in the Pinewood Derby. He came in 7th out of 18. Not too shabby! It was our last of 8 derbys - Jonah and Noah overlapped one year.
  • We spent President's Day weekend in Trier, the oldest city in Germany, which has Roman beginnings and ruins to match. Stopped at Ramstein PX on the way home for lunch.
  • Elijah is participating in Robotics Club. Each grade only does it for about a month each year, and he looks forward to it every time.
  • Sickness here and there. Jonah and Noah have both missed several days of school. Noah woke up one day with the most swollen neck I have ever seen, but only on one side. It was strep, and rather amusing. Should have taken a picture! I was struck with something this weekend, but my sore throat has gone away, so I am pretty sure I avoided strep.
  • Still no snow. We had a couple of flakes, but no snow all winter long. Very sad. Not ready for spring.

There! That is about it! I think I can handle this, though I think I will change my system to the first Sunday of every month so I can write about the complete month before. How can you incorporate systems into your goal setting?

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