Systems Trump Willpower (No, this is not political)

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I’m somewhat of a Tim Ferriss junkie, if he writes it, I’m reading it. I have a special appreciation for him, because he reignited my love of reading and personal development. After having kids, I stopped reading all the types of books that I had truly enjoyed for so long, and was stuck in a whirlwind of motherhood. My cousin suggested Tools of Titans for family book club, and I was hooked. I also love his podcast, his authentic interviews provide further insight into what he discusses in his books, and opens me up to individuals and knowledge I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Side note: I also recently entered to have a drunk dial Skype conversation with him. I drank a few too many Gin and Diet Tonics waiting for him to call. He never did; I kind of felt like I was stood up for prom. My husband just laughed, shook his head and watched while I anxiously and drunkenly awaiting another man’s call. My husband is a trooper.

During the most recent Tim Ferriss Show I was listening to, he was answering a variety of questions he has received from his Five Bullet Friday newsletters. I chose this episode because the title discussed “Securing Financial Freedom” and even though I am burnt out on discussing money, after focussing on it so intensely this month, I wanted to follow through with this months happiness project and finish strong.

One of the first questions he answered was about preventing yourself from binge eating and ruining your diet when facing stress or crises. His answer is certainly applicable to physical health but also financial health. While answering the question he discussed setting yourself up for success and starting your day off right; that systems trump willpower. Systems trump will power. In this case, he means don’t keep junk food in your house, that way you can’t binge eat on a bag of delicious Cadbury Mini Eggs, but instead you only have apples to satisfy a sweet tooth and you won’t kill your progress. He said to start your day off right, by eating a proper breakfast, you set the whole tone for the day. By starting your day with a healthy choice you are more likely to continue that, rather than snowball into caloric oblivion.

These simple concepts can be applied to financial health as well. Systems trump willpower. I recently discussed the importance of setting up automatic withdrawals for investments and savings; by having a system in place that invests money before we see it, we set up a system that doesn’t allow us to binge on spending. Just like starting your day off with a healthy breakfast, we do this at the beginning of each month, of each pay period to start each cycle off right.

Tim also discusses the psychological impacts of investing. He states that a good investment increases quality of life. This is especially important to remember when setting up budgets, savings, and investment accounts. For example, if you are looking into investing in something that has high risk with the potential for high reward, how does this affect you? Will the potential loss create greater psychological turmoil than any potential gain? Overall you need to figure out what is right for you, and for your life and find ways where you can implement systems, for when your willpower fails you.

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