How do habits help you reach your goals?
Suppose you have the goal of running a marathon: if you don’t already have the habit of running regularly, you’re unlikely to be successful until you can adopt that habit. Running regularly can help you attain your goal in several ways, including getting you in great physical shape and strengthening your endurance.
Developing supportive habits can be easier than you think and far more powerful than you can imagine!
Identify the Habits You Need
Before you create new, positive habits, you’ll want to figure out which habits will help you attain your goals. For every goal, there are habits that can practically guarantee success. Reflect on your goals and what actions you can take to help bring them about.
Consider these attributes 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.
- 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.
- So “I’m going to exercise 1 hour per day” is inadequate. “I’m going to swim from 6-7 am, Monday through Friday at the YMCA” is more like it. This has enough detail to be quite clear about what you want to accomplish and includes the how, when and where.
Prepare for Interference
There are usually obstacles to creating new habits and behavioral patterns. Try to figure out these possibilities ahead of time so you can eliminate them as soon as possible.
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.
The obstacle might be time interference. Maybe your partner doesn’t usually leave you alone for 30 minutes every night so you can meditate, write, read, or whatever it is you want to do towards your goal. Simply let them know ahead of time that you need be undisturbed during this time.
Look for More Supporting Habits
When you determine supporting habits that will help you reach your goal, consider going even deeper into the details to find habits that will help you accomplish your other new habits.
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, 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.
Enjoy Automatic Success
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.
Just as counter-productive habits can keep you from success, supportive habits can practically guarantee your victory. So consider the habits that will best support your goals, put them into action on a daily basis, and enjoy your new success!