Saying Yes – Creating Goals & Habits That Support You
Sometimes it really is the small changes that make the difference. Yet most of us barrel headlong into huge life changes, several at a time, go gung-ho for a little while, then get tired and frustrated and wonder why we give up. Then we get angry at ourselves for “failing” and start the cycle over again, but not before punishing ourselves for our “bad” behaviour.
This is typical for black & white behaviour, so don’t beat yourself up. What we are going to do here, is find a little grey area. That in and of itself, may be the small change that becomes a new goal and /or habit that supports you. Only you know what you truly need and what you are truly capable of. But you will also know if you are lying to yourself about what you can and can’t do. That in itself is the key thing to note, as once you start playing this game, you start losing trust and belief in yourself and give yourself more reasons to beat yourself up.
What is different here, is that we establish the goals, then find the habits. It can work both ways, but if your goal is to make something a habit, obviously knowing the goal has to come first. In some case, once you know what your goals are, then you will also know what habits you will have to commit to, in order to achieve your goals. I know for me, setting goals or trying to create habits never worked before because I didn’t understand how they were connected and see it as two level tier of support . i.e.: If my goal was to be healthy, I didn’t have anything “SMART” habit wise, to make the goal a reality. I’m not saying that this is going to resonate with everybody, but I know this made the difference for me, so it might help you.
So let’s start with a few things to consider when creating goals/habits that support you. I am using the traditional SMART format that applies to business growth, but in my experience, using “business tools” and applying them to personal life, can be just as effective helping with the “business of life”. For those of you not familiar with SMART goals, I have put a brief description below:
- SPECIFIC: The key is to start small, with specific things you can do and achieve. Setting yourself up to fail just doesn’t make sense. Spend a few minutes thinking of the things you want to achieve, then work backwards to see what you may need to do to get there. If that doesn’t work for you, take a look at where you are now and identify what you want to change / do differently. There is not just one way to do this, but the key is to be specific to you can great a detailed plan of action.
- MEASURABLE: When considering your goals, it is important to know how you will recognize if you are on track, doing things well, need some help or possibly to readjust the goal itself. Knowing how to measure your achievements is an important part. If you don’t have this part in place not only will you not know how you are doing, but you will have no way to celebrate your accomplishments.
- ACHIEVABLE: Once you have identified these things you want to change, try to be honest about what is achievable, what you really want to do, the reasons why and then consider the time and resources you have available to work towards your goals. When you have looked at all of these, it might make sense to prioritize your goals. These pieces will help for ongoing motivation when the going gets tough, when time has passed on and the initial excitement has worn off.
- RESULTS FOCUSED: Your goals and results are to measure the outcome not the activities it takes to reach the goals. This is the bigger picture focus. The “why” of your specific pieces and what you are hoping to achieve by putting this on your list. Never lose sight of your end goals and ensure that all of your steps go to fulfilling this goal. If you can’t track it back, you may be doing the wrong thing or supporting a different habit.
- TIMELINE: Realistic timelines are critical to the success of any plan. Similar to above, you can’t expect to lose 100 pounds overnight and expecting to do so is just going to defeat your mindset. It might make sense to break things up into reasonable chunks of time. There should be urgency and tension between the current reality and the goal, but not enough to cause you stress or cause you to give up.
For myself personally, I add in three pieces, which to me are goals, that will eventually become habits:
- I do a daily gratitude journal – I try to do it in the morning to start my day off with this mindset.
- I do a win / lessons learned journal – I try to do this at the end of the work day so I can see what worked, what didn’t and what I may need to change for tomorrow.
- I always do the hardest parts of my day first – to get them over and done with, before my energy is gone or before I can talk myself out of it through procrastination.
I’m not saying this entire list has to be completed verbatim, but it is a tool to help you get started. Having goals and/or habits that are clearly defined and measurable will go a long way to ensuring they are achievable.
And yes, taking a step to get started is part of creating a habit that supports you.