Goals vs Habits: Can they work together?

Goals vs Habits: Can they work together?
January 9, 2020 Linda Murray
linda murray goals

If I ask you to describe a goal and a habit, how would you do it?

And what if I asked you to distinguish between the two? What impact do they have on each other?

In my experience, a goal is created by your own inner motivation, but a habit is something you do on autopilot. If your habits are positive, that’s great. However, most habits fight against your goals. For most of us, habits and goals don’t work well together.

Have you developed good habits?

The chances are you can’t answer this question straight away. Habits are automatic and deeply ingrained, so often you may not even know they are there. For example:

  • Which leg do you put inside your pants first in the morning?
  • Where on your desk do you place your coffee cup each day?
  • Do you start your car with the door open or closed?

See what I mean? You have habits you don’t even know about.

Those habits are unlikely to affect your goals so don’t worry about them. Instead, we need to drill down to find the habits which either support you or hold you back. You actually need habits to reach your goal. Let’s see why.

Motivation fades.

If reaching a goal was easy, we’d all be successful with our New Year’s resolutions. Instead, we start off with passion and determination but over time it fades. We’re distracted by a new and shiny object, we run out of patience, life gets in the way or we just forget.

The best way to reach a goal is to develop habits to support it.

How good habits help.

When you know what you want to achieve (your goal) you can work out how to get there. You identify the steps you need to take and how you can put each one into place. Your final step is identifying how to make certain you complete each one. That’s where the habits come in.

For example, your goal might be to read 12 books for the year. You can break that down to one book each month. You could break that down even further to a specific number of chapters each week. So, you have a goal and you have the key steps. Now all you need is something to keep you on track.

What good habits could you create to help?

  • The habit of ending the day with a half-hour of reading.
  • A habit of reviewing your progress at the end of each week.
  • A habit of taking a book with you every time you use public transport.
  • The habit of leaving your desk each lunchtime to eat and read in a quiet place.

Whatever works for you. These habits will keep you on track.

You’ll need to rid yourself of bad habits such as going to sleep in front of the TV or scrolling through your Facebook feed on the train. Those habits fight against the goal.

Ridding yourself of bad habits.

Changing your habits will take work. Those bad habits are ingrained. My best tip for overcoming them is to change your triggers. For example, don’t sit in front of the TV at the end of the day. Choose a chair with a reading lamp beside it instead.

You can be quite radical when you’re changing habits. In fact, a big change is likely to be more effective than a series of small ones. Change all the bad habits – the ones holding you back from your goal – and do it at once. It will give your brain the shakeup it needs and make room for your new habits to slip in.

I’m not going to pretend it will be easy; it won’t. However, I will tell you that it’s worth it.

If you really want to reach your goal, create habits to support it. They are habits because we soon do them automatically.

Just imagine how your life would look if all your habits were positive?

Charles Nobel said, “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” It worked for him and it will work for you, too.

Need help making the change? Contact me here and let’s talk about how I can help you.


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