Have you ever set a goal for yourself and didn’t achieve it? Maybe you fell back into old habits, or you forgot about the goal in the first place. Or maybe life just got so overwhelming that it was easier to stop focusing on the goal.
What the case may be, a few months later you remember the goal you set for yourself and the vision you have for your life. You set the same goal and tell yourself this time will be different. Yet, a month later it wasn’t any different than in the past.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry – you’re not alone.
The majority of the world sets goals for themselves but don’t achieve them, so today we’re gonna talk about why. Why can’t we stay consistent with our goals?
The issue isn’t with goals. It’s because we haven’t turned our goals into habits.
Is there a problem with goals?
We all have goals…things we want to achieve at different times during our life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Having goals helps us focus our efforts.
However, it’s not enough to just set goals. Most people set goals or resolutions and leave it at that, and that’s when it becomes a problem. Here’s why:
- Goals have an endpoint. When you achieve your goal, what’s stopping you from reverting back to how you were before setting that goal? Think about cleaning your room. You can muster up the energy to clean your room and it’ll be clean for a short time. But you’ll still have the same habits that caused your room to get messy in the first place. This is treating symptoms without addressing the root of the disease.
- Goals can alter your view of happiness. You may start to feel defeated and unhappy when you think about how you’re not achieving your goals. Prioritizing habits, though, will help you fall in love with the process so you’ll feel happy regardless of if you achieve the goal.
For additional information on some problems with goals, read this excerpt from chapter 1 of Atomic Habits.
Why turn goals into habits?
We all have habits – some good, some bad. Habits are behaviors that we perform automatically. We don’t even need to be consciously aware that we’re forming habits to actually form them. Crazy, I know.
Researchers from Dule University did a study and found that up to 40% of our daily behaviors are driven by habits. This means that our habits play a major role in what we do and the person that we’re becoming through our daily actions. So you can set the greatest goals in the world, but if your habits aren’t aligned with those goals then you likely won’t achieve them.
Because of this, we should not just set goals, but create habits that will help us surpass our goals and become better versions of ourselves overall.
First we make our habits, then our habits make us.Charles C. Noble
How to turn your goals into habits
Set your goal
When I say turn your goals into habits, I don’t mean to toss your goals out the window and only focus on habits for the rest of your life. That would be ludicrous!!
Instead, I still want you to set your goals, then pair a habit with the goal – a combined approach.
Determine your habit
Once you’ve set your goals, it’s important to think about what habits will help you achieve that goal.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine your habit:
- What new behaviors will support your goals?
- What daily actions would make this goal a done deal?
- When are you going to put in the extra work?
It’s also important to note that your habits should be specific. You should know exactly when, where, and how you’ll do your habit.
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, said – “changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.”
There’s immense power in starting small. The big changes you’re looking for in your life are the culmination of small actions that seem insignificant while you’re doing them. To create a new habit you have to keep it simple and easy to do – because complexity is the enemy of execution.
Example of turning your goals into habits
Let’s put this in a real-world scenario. Weight loss / healthy eating is always my go-to for some reason with examples, so that’s what you’re getting!
Let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds in the next 3 months. That’s your goal. Okay, so you’d need to lose approximately 10 pounds a month. How do you do that?
Hmm…maybe you’ll want to increase your steps to 10,000 daily. You can start small by walking for 10 or 20 minutes every morning, for example.
Or maybe you want to start with your eating habits. Perhaps you’ll decide to drink 8oz of water first thing every morning.
Do you see how I’m picking small actions that you can do daily? Because eventually they’ll compound and walking 10 minutes every morning will be a cake-walk so you’ll increase it anyway. And once that’s comfortable, you can add in other habits, like exercising at the gym 3 days a week for instance.
Basically, set goals that align with your life vision, then get there by building habits. Turning your goals into habits will help you fall in love with the process of achieving your goals as well as long-lasting success. You’re not always going to feel motivated to achieve your goals, which is why your habits will be crucial to keep you going.