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#42 — Engineering Perfect Systems

Brandon's Bulletin
James Clear writes that if you want better results, focus on building better systems instead of goals — that’s what will ultimately carry you consistently to your goals. But is it really worth it to have this “perfect system” before you begin to start something? Is this even achievable? Read on to hear my thoughts on this matter.

Hey again! It’s me. It’s been some time since I last wrote — there’s been a lot of changes going on and quite literally a lot to take in. For starters, I am in the process of doing a complete 180 on my career trajectory and I’ve recently been leading an international merger between two non-profits. Those are stories for another day. Unfortunately, as a result, I’ve had to put a couple of things on the back end for now, including my creative outlets. This experience has taught me at least one (of many things): I love creating, and I should really make more of an active decision to do that. Anyways, I’m back now — I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter to end off 2021.
⚡️ achieving perfection
Before I begin, I want to say that this sentence took me a couple of attempts to write. Why? Because I wanted it to be perfect, but is that really even possible?
If I had to describe what my last couple of months was, it would be this: trying to engineer perfect systems. I came back from London, ON with some newfound energy brought on by spending time with friends and finding joy in spontaneity, temporarily abandoning the “hustle culture” that I previously swore by. I spent countless hours trying to create the perfect life dashboard on Notion or the most efficient workflow to balance my involvement in startups with a full university course load.
Now this inherently isn’t a bad ploy. James Clear says in Atomic Habits that “goals are about the results you want to achieve; systems are about the processes that lead to those results”. Investing in these systems is quite worthwhile and even recommended. I’ve been taking time to really think about the systems I have in place in order to bring me to this “perfection” that everyone seems to be chasing (and rightfully so, it propels innovation and individuals forward).
But, can perfection really be achieved?
I’ve come to terms with the theory of relativity more and more, especially as it pertains to social psychology. Though initially proposed by Einstein to change the field of theoretical physics and astronomy, this (at least to me) has broad implications. For instance, the measure of success to an individual is relative to the observed success of others known to that individual. What makes a situation “good” or “bad” is drawn in comparison to other lived experiences.
Keeping this in mind, how then do we place metrics around perfection? Is it simply some status free from blemish? Perfection may very well be some arbitrary value or goal that one personally deems worthy of attaining. It may all just be relative, but yet meaningful because of what we attribute to it.
As we head into 2022, this time of year is notorious for setting these “perfect” goals and for idealizing what a “perfect” year would look like. Many times, we take this season to build seemingly “perfect” systems to allow us to get to these goals, and continually revisit and refine them over the coming weeks.
I’m writing this because, in my pursuit of building “the perfect system” to allow me to optimize my time and goals efficiently, I haven’t really gotten anything started. I didn’t write a single blog post or publish a video in the past few months. I also really didn’t do much of the goals I set for myself. Effectively, I was procrastinating — shoving down the tasks that I needed to be done and masking them with the idea that I was actually preparing to get them done better and faster and more efficient by building a better system.
So yes, instead of prioritizing perfection in the goals and systems that you set out for yourself, be content with simply having goals and systems, and then just do it. Prioritize getting out there every day and taking a stab at whatever you’re committing to yourself.
Don’t let the pursuit of perfection drive you to inaction.
🌱 three life updates
  1. finished the 1st semester of my third year at UofT — overall super happy with 3/5 grades I received so far, but pretty bummed that UofT will be online for the 1st month of 2nd sem
  2. i now play for the UTSC varsity basketball team with my brother and one of my old basketball coaches, and it’s been amazing (other than the fact that I got injured recently)
  3. pivoting from medicine to healthcare/biotech consulting, for now; will make a video on this later on, so stay tuned :)
🦋 ponder this thought this week
What systems do you need to establish to allow you to achieve your goals in 2022? How will you go about building those systems?
🚀 video of the week
five meaningful lessons I learned in 2021
five meaningful lessons I learned in 2021
Thanks for reading this new rendition of Brandon’s Bulletin! If you found this thought-provoking or would like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to reach me on Twitter or via email. Find me elsewhere on YouTube and on my website. Have an amazing week ahead and a very happy new year!
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Brandon Yu
Brandon Yu @brandonoliveryu

Becoming better in public and sharing weekly learnings throughout my personal pursuit of ikigai.

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