Provision #261: Develop Effortless Systems

Laser Provision


Too often we try to navigate transitions through the strength of our own determination and will-power. Unfortunately, that never lasts forever. Things work much better when we design, develop, and draw on effortless, self-organizing systems. This Provision illustrates how to make that happen.

LifeTrek Provision


As I begin to write this Provision, I am watching the mist rise off the surface of Queens Lake and the morning sun brighten the still, green leaves of the opposite shore. It is a glorious start to the first new day in our new home and headquarters of LifeTrek coaching. It is also the prefect ending of a perfect move. Everything went so smoothly, according to plan, and effortlessly that I have to think there are many lessons here for successfully navigating life’s transitions.

One lesson is to design, develop, and draw on effortless systems. This can only happen if we do the grief work described in the last two Provisions. To move from something old to something new, one has to put the old to bed. That takes an active recognition of all that is good in the old world. Doing so frees your energy and imagination for the kind of systems that will assist you to be successful.

Here’s an example. I call it being organized by the flow of life (AKA the United States Postal Service). Approximately 40 days prior to our move-in date, we secured our new phone number and established new banking relationships on the east coast and began doing business from there. That enabled our old accounts to grow dormant prior to closing. It also enabled us to begin notifying our vendors and customers of our new contact information.

Once all this was in place, we began the daily routine of dealing with any mail that came through the door. Since we were a month out from our move-in date, we would perfectly catch the next monthly billing or publication schedule without missing a single invoice or issue. It worked seamlessly. By the time we arrived, there were few items that the postal service needed to forward from our old address.

More significantly, it worked effortlessly. We did not have to make to-do lists or think about all the people we had to notify. We simply let them come to us. By dealing with them day-by-day, over the course of 40 days, we knew we would capture almost all of the important contacts. Rather than worrying over whether or not we had thought of everyone and everything, we could simply wait for the flow of life to organize itself through our awareness and use of a system that was already in place. We were also presented with a manageable amount of business to handle from one day to the next. It worked like a charm.

There are huge life lessons in this example. Allow me to identify three.

First, we free ourselves to be successful when we don’t rely on systems that take will-power or self-discipline. Everyone knows the problem of going on a diet: you gain the weight back once you go off the diet. And no one can be on a diet for ever. So just about everyone gains the weight back. The only people who successfully lose weight and keep it off are people who develop new, enjoyable habits and interests. They hit upon effortless, self-organizing systems that work.

That was certainly the experience of organizing our transition through the postal service. As soon as we had the system in place, we could sit back, relax, and let the system do its work. Confident that the system would capture at least 80% of the vendors and customers, we could direct our energy to grief work and leave taking. We could pay attention to the finer things in the life, since handling the details was on autopilot.

Second, we free ourselves to be successful when we rely upon effortless, self-organizing systems that are already in place. And this is true more often than we think. We just need to recognize and use them. It would certainly have been possible to develop lists upon lists of all the people and companies we needed to contact and notify. But why bother with such a labor-intensive system? The postal service delivered the list to our door every day! And they did their job impeccably.

This lesson has broad and deep applications. So often we approach life from the heroic, “I did it my way” frame of mind. There are certainly times and places for rugged individualism. But most of the time there are resources at our finger tips we barely manage to recognize, let alone tap. I mean who would think of the postal service as a resource? Reframe the project, however, and it suddenly jumps into view. So too in other areas of life. There are systems and people in place that will assist us to be successful, often free of charge, if we just let them. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can build on the experience and wisdom that’s all around us (and don’t be afraid to pay for them when necessary).

Third, we free ourselves to be successful when we rely upon effortless, self-organizing systems that break things down into bite size pieces. To quote a clich•, there really is only one way to eat an elephant, and that’s one bite at a time. Take on too much at once and suddenly everything starts to slip. Quality as well as quantity begins to decline. Perhaps even more significantly, we quickly find ourselves overwhelmed • pushing from adrenaline rather than pulling from attraction.

What’s attraction? It’s being so filled with energy, gratitude, and love that systems and people are drawn to you like a magnet. There’s no way to be that attractive and be overwhelmed at the same time. Breaking it down in manageable pieces of work will fill you with energy that’s often missing for the trek of life.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I’ve really enjoyed the LifeTrek Provisions, and they come at just the right time. May was a terrible month with significant health and career challenges. Though limited in what physical activity I could do, on May 27, I began walking daily on a treadmill at the local community center. At first, I tried to read or do something “productive.” Finally, I decided that these walks, looking out at a beautiful field and hills with the sun coming up over them, were really a walk away from these recent events and a walk to a newer, healthier, and (hopefully) wealthier life. It made the walk much more purposeful than just exercising. I’ve been through the range of emotions on these walks, and feel strength, energy, and purpose returning as I move away from the events of May. While I’m not certain about what I’m walking towards, at least I’m walking away from unpleasantness, a job that took too much out of me, and pain in my back. Starting tomorrow, I will start imagining what I’m walking towards! I’ll trust my body and mind to get me to where I need to be. Thanks for sharing your insights in these Provisions!


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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