One of the keys to reaching a new goal is to have habits in place that support that goal. As Brian Tracy says, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Success doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s a series of little things you do every day.
How can habits help you reach your goals?
Before you decide which habits you will learn, you must first decide on your big goal. The Slay Your Goals Planner can help you by asking all the right questions and helping you take action on it.
You can take the FREE 12-question quiz to discover which area of your life you should focus on in 2018. Plus, receive resolution and goal ideas with your results. (take the quiz here)
Suppose you have a goal to run a marathon. If you don’t already have the habit of running regularly, you’re unlikely to be successful in your marathon until you can adopt that habit.
Running regularly will help you reach your goal in several ways, including getting you in great physical shape and strengthening your endurance to run longer.
Developing supportive habits can be easier than you think and far more powerful than you can imagine!
Identify the Habits You Need
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead, say something like “I will go for a 30-minute walk every single day”. Decide what your new habit will be and commit to when and how you’re going to do it.
To figure out which habits to start on, think about the things you can do on a daily basis that it will take to help you reach your goal. For every goal, there are habits that can guarantee success. Reflect on your goals and what actions you can take to help bring them about.
Consider these qualities for the habits you want to implement:
- Look for daily habits. Habits you practice each day are much easier to put into place and keep than those that are less frequent.
- Keep it simple. The more complex the task, the less likely you are to stick with it. If you really do need to implement a complex habit, start with a simpler version and then add more complexity later.
- Stick to only a few at a time. The more that you try to change, the less focused you will be and more frustrated when you don’t achieve them all. Try sticking to only 1-2 habits every month and add on as each habit becomes more established.
- Be specific. It’s not enough to just specify what you’re going to do; include the how, when, and where as well. Time is always critical when creating a new habit. Be sure to specify a precise period of time in which you wish to implement the new actions. Schedule it into your planner!
Instead of saying “I’m going to exercise more”. The goal of “I’m going to run on the treadmill from 6-7 am, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the gym” will more likely set you up for success. This makes your habit more of a routine and once it’s scheduled into your day, makes it more real and achievable.
Prepare for Obstacles & Plan Ahead
The first few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
There are always going to be obstacles to creating new habits. Change is always hard. Try to figure out what obstacles you will face ahead of time so you can find a solution and prepare for them when they do arise.
For example, if you’ve decided that you’re going to eat a healthy breakfast every day, get rid of all the breakfast junk food in your pantry and freezer. That junk food is an obstacle to successfully implementing your habit.
Another example, if you’ve decided that you’re going to go to the gym early in the morning, set up your running clothes and shoes out ready for you so you don’t spend time thinking about it. The fewer decisions you have to make the more likely you will become successful in your new habit.
Another obstacle might be time distractions. Maybe your kids or your partner doesn’t give you any alone time ever. But you’d like to schedule in at least 30 minutes every night so you can meditate, write, read, or whatever it is you want to do towards your goal. Before starting your new habit, simply let them know ahead of time that you need be undisturbed during this time. Treat that time like an appointment!
Obstacles will always happen because life happens. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
Make it a part of your routine
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
For example, if one of your new habits is to make it to the gym every morning by 6:00 am, you can develop several supporting habits to help you establish this habit and make it a part of your routine, such as:
- Get out of bed by 5:15 am.
- In order to get up at 5:15 am each day, you might need an additional habit of always being in bed by 10:00 pm.
- Another supporting habit might be to pack your gym bag the night before.
- These supporting habits are monumentally important. Take time to think about what additional habits you can develop to support your efforts.
All these habits become a part of your routine and are more realistic than resolutions now. Make that daily walk part of your after-dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.
I like to create checklists for my routines so that I can make sure I am doing them daily. You can check out my post here about why I think routines are so important!
Reach your goals easily with your new habits!
Once an action becomes a habit, you’ll do it automatically, without having to make the decision to do it each time. In other words, you’ll automatically move forward, day after day, toward achieving your goal until you reach it.
Decide to create the new habit, consider the habits that will best support your goals, practice the routine and put them into action on a daily basis, and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit and reaching those goals!