Reframing

party store cartoonWhen I was younger, I used to run a lot. I was a pretty good citizen runner for years.

Sometimes while running I’d chat with other runners, I realized lots of them were getting ready for this or that race.

I ran in a few races but mostly I just liked running. The people who’d be training for a race usually wouldn’t continue running after the race day.

It’s the difference between having a goal and having a system, it’s the framing you use (or need) to approach something.

The cartoonist Scott Adams put it this way, “…goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction. My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals…”

For example, If you want to be healthy and are interested in running, then planning to run the NYC marathon is a goal and being active everyday is a system. The difference in how you frame of what you do probably affects how long you’ll stick with it.

Here’s another framing option. Aren’t adults more likely to say, “I can’t”, rather than, “I haven’t learned that yet” (I can’t swim, I can’t cook, I can’t use a computer). That’s how I tend to frame things. Maybe it’s too uncomfortable for adults to be seen as trying something that they might fail at.

What about this? Changing “is” to “could be,” and looking for “an answer” rather than “the answer.” This lets you think in conditionals instead of absolutes.  Everyone likes to be right, but using these different ways to frame something might make your life easier.

Unnecessary stress comes from letting the perfect get in the way of the good enough. Striving for the likely unattainable “ideal” is OK, but at the same time realize that what you’re likely to achieve is the “good enough.”