What do you think of when you hear the term “Operating System”?
Computers probably come to mind first. Computers’ operating systems interface with their own software and hardware to make the capabilities of a powerful computing machine available to the average user.
You also may have heard of management operating systems (MOS), a system I see regularly in my profession. Based on the Plan, Do, Check, Act framework of continuous process improvement, the objective of a management operating system is to organize all available resources to monitor and execute on a process to steadily improve that process over time.
Both computers and businesses rely on structured operating systems for peak performance and continuous improvement. If a clearly articulated and developed operating system is so essential for your computer and your company, might not the same apply in your own life?
Developing a Success Operating System
A Success operating system (SOS) is the collection of tools, habits, and processes we implement in our own lives to foster continuous improvement towards peak performance.
Like many companies I interact with, you may feel that creating a SOS might be beyond the scope of your time and resources. We often tell ourselves that we’re too busy to develop a clearly defined “way-we-work” strategy to direct ourselves towards success.
But if a clearly defined set of values, rules, systems, tools and behaviors are important for our best run companies, then shouldn’t we take some time to slow down and develop our own personal operating system?
I know you’re busy and may not want to become too over programmed. But how would you like it if your electronic devices or favorite company lacked a structured way to communicate and execute? You wouldn’t, right?
My recommendation: start where you are. What are the behaviors, tools and systems you currently use to be your very best and achieve maximum levels of happiness and productivity? These are what you currently have to work with. Now here is how you can more formally structure that system.
Structuring Your Success Operating System
Purpose → Goals → Weekly Game Plan → Daily Plan → Learning
Your personal operating system starts with a clearly defined purpose or mission. All your goals and activities should be derived from your purpose (or mission/calling). I have written other blogs and published YouTube videos on this topic alone, but suffice it to say that to define your own purpose you need to find the intersect between the answer to these three questions:
- What are your strengths?
- What activities in the past made you feel in the flow of peak performance?
- What activities bring you the most joy?
Answering these questions can give you some principles or ideas to make your most important career and life decisions.
Identify your roles so that you make sure and have goals for each role. I encourage you to set life goals, not just work goals. I know too many people who are so purposeful and intentional at work and then just coast at home. Bring that same sense of passion and purpose to your whole life. Passion and purpose in your personal life will bring you true and sustainable joy.
3. Weekly Game Plan
A weekly game plan is the keystone habit that propels you toward your long-term goal achievement. You can click here to download a worksheet I have developed for conducting a weekly game plan. The worksheet has areas on the left-hand side for the mission/purpose and lifetime goals that we just mentioned. These long-term goals won’t usually change. With this worksheet in hand, each week you can sit down and have a 30-minute planning session to plan the week and make sure you are accomplishing the important but non-urgent activities in your life.
I have also published a YouTube video to help understand the importance of weekly planning.
4. Daily Planning
Most of us work through a to-do list or a task sheet at work and home. Now that you are planning your most important roles and goals, you will find this daily task sheet is filled with more than just the urgent items that have your immediate attention each day. At the beginning of each day, open up your weekly game plan and plan your day from your highest priorities.
The weekly game plan may be the most important tool in your personal operating system, but the habit of learning is the most important behavior and mindset.
Each day and each week take time to evaluate your performance and learn from it. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What went well?
- What could I have done better?
- How will I plan differently tomorrow or next week?
What went well? Make sure to celebrate and remember the small victories each day. Happiness lies in the process, not the result. I can’t overemphasize this: The happiest people enjoy the journey, not the result. Be grateful for the little victories each day that life affords you. This is were happiness and progress are nurtured.
What could I have done better? As you ask yourself this question, you don’t need to be critical. Just give yourself an honest appraisal of your day/week. What could you have done differently? How could you have reacted differently to an interruption in your schedule? Maybe you could close the door during peak creativity or enlist help from family members or work colleagues to stay on task.
How will I plan differently tomorrow or next week? As you analyze what went well and what didn’t, your mind will be inspired to figure out ways to plan less or plan differently. Let your creativity work.
If you are constantly being interrupted, try to remember which priority is more important. If your kids or your colleagues interrupt your with an emergency, be flexible enough to recognize the importance of the relationship and re-prioritize on the fly.
Take a learning mindset into your weekly and daily planning. Be curious and observe yourself in the process. This is where the magic happens, where creativity, curiosity and good planning intersect. It’s fun to figure out new ways to get things done given the environment you find yourself in. Enjoy the process!
Starting the Journey
Psychologist David Watson teaches the value of the journey:
“Contemporary researchers emphasize that it is the process of striving for goals—rather than the attainment per se—that is crucial for happiness and positive affectivity.”David Watson
To get started, download the weekly game plan worksheet and develop your own personal operating system! This will be the most important system you develop to achieve peak performance.
Send me feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Live a life of sustainable CI!