This week we’re going to talk about adopting new habits to achieve your goals. Everyone has good and bad habits. Eating poorly, staying up late, drinking and smoking are known to be bad habits. Going to bed early, eating healthy and exercising are known good habits. There are many habits we can acquire to propel ourselves closer to our goals. This is the year for you to change your bad habits and turn your life around for good to achieve your goals. Even though they say hindsight and the year we are in is 2020, we are not going to focus on the past. Instead it’s time to plow full speed ahead and develop habits to crush our goals this year. Believe me, I’m right there with you.
Where are you going?
First and most important is having a clear vision of your goals. If you don’t know where you are going you will only chase your own tail and run in circles. You need to know exactly what you want, why it’s important to you to achieve it, and have a plan in place with steps on how you are going to get there.
Even more importantly, your goals need to be SMART goals. This means they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and have a time frame for completing.
What is a habit?
A habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.
Habits: Do You Know How And When To Use Them?
I recently read an article by Michael Hyatt about knowing when and how to use habits. This definitely was an eye opener for me because I have never heard of this or thought of habits this way before.
According to Michael, when you have a vague idea of what you want to do but you can’t figure out how to make it measurable, this is what we call a habit goal. Say your goal is to lose weight. This is a very vague goal and not very specific. Let’s say you know you need to do this but you don’t have any specifics yet because you haven’t been to the doctor for your yearly checkup. It’s still attainable. This is when you tell yourself, I will spend 30 minutes a day on the treadmill at
7:00 a.m. for five days a week starting on X day of the month and will do so for 90 days.
The other element he talks about when it comes to habits is a habit step. This means having a goal and breaking it down into steps. For example, I’m an author and want to write a 80,000 word novel in five months. I need to sit down and write 500 words a day for five days a week at 6 a.m. beginning on Feb 1st for 160 days straight. By the end of that time, I will have a first draft of my book done. How exciting.
Using a Habit
Michael also talks about how to use a habit. This means you must first declare what the habit is and mold it into the SMART framework. This is different than just having an achievement goal with a deadline. There need to be four specific things that go into this.
You must have a start date.
You must have specific habit frequency-will you do this every day? Every week? Every month?
A specific time table-you need to have a specific time that you do this every day. Having a specific time helps train your mind and body to know what’s coming next and to be prepared.
Streak Target-This means how many times you must do this over and over for it to become an ingrained habit. (Tip: Mr. Hyatt suggests at least 70 days.)
Keeping It Simple
We all know habits can be a hard thing to start and keep going so start small. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Get up a half hour earlier every morning.
- Go to bed a half hour earlier every night.
- Start with a 15 minute walk every day to jump start your fitness routine.
- Pack your lunch three days a week compared to hitting the vending machine every day.
- If you live in a congested area, leave half an hour earlier to get to work.
- Pack your lunch the night before.
- Choose your outfit the night before.
- Get your “work” stuff organized the night before.
- If you’re a writer, set a small word count goal (say 250 or 500 words a day) to write before you go to your day job.
- Add a few more fruits and vegetables to your grocery list each week.
- Bookmark 1 or 2 healthy recipes on Pinterest that you want to try each week.
These are just a few small ideas to get you started but I’m sure you can think of many, many more.
I recently read a great book about goals called Finish by Jon Acuff. The whole book focuses on giving yourself the gift of done and shows you how to actually achieve your goals. Compared to just talking about what you’re going to achieve year after year.
One thing that stuck out to me is to cut your goal in half. When we set massive goals and fail to achieve them we feel like we failed the whole thing. When in reality, this just isn’t true. For example, you set a goal to lose ten pounds a month but only lost five. Did you fail your goal? Heavens no. You lost some weight, in fact you lost half of the goal you set and that’s a good thing. By cutting your goal in half, you increase your performance compared to stressing out over not achieving the whole weight loss goal.
Like you, I have some new habits to ingrain for myself this year. So far things have been a little rocky so I’m right there with you. But we can do this. We can all figure out a system that will help us to get closer and achieve our goals. What works for me may not work for you and that’s okay. We are all different and have different ways of doing things. As long as it gets us closer to our goals and our dream lives that’s all that matters. We just need to keep on adjusting and going. We got this.