Do you ever find yourself setting all sorts of well-intentioned and high-achieving goals? It’s a good thing to strive for better, right? We all want to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser; so what’s the problem? The problem with goals is that we are all human.
Why goals don’t work
It’s not an easy feat to turn around the Titanic, plus it’s not going to happen very fast either. The same is true with our lives. We have been going in a certain direction for a number of years.
We can’t just stop all our bad habits over night and immediately start waking up early to go to the gym and workout. You know that you need to start creating the habit of going to bed earlier.
Sure, we might be able to push ourselves, and get through a few early mornings based on true adrenaline and drive to reach our goals. Unfortunately though that will-power will run out.
And we will be back to sleeping in and grabbing a muffin and coffee on the way into work each morning.
It’s so hard to figure out why we can’t ever seem to reach our goals. After all, we do what all the productivity gurus say to do: we make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. or even S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. We make our vision boards. Heck, we even say our positive affirmations, putting out all sorts of good energy into the world. But all the good energy and all the good intentions in the world are not enough to develop lasting and life-long changes.
Create habits instead
This is why I have sworn off goals and have started working on focusing on my habits instead.
Habits are the building blocks which make up our days, weeks, years, and lives. Some of them are good (we get plenty of water each day), while other daily habits not so healthy (staying up late binge watching Netflix). However, good or bad, they are the foundation on which we build our lives.
The small choices we make each day are what decide the big results of our year, and eventually lives. Therefore, this is where we should start in making lasting change and development.
We might not be able to turn around the Titanic in a day, but we can start to take baby steps towards getting the ship steered back on course.
I first read about habits in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg but I wasn’t in a place at that time in my life to really grasp the meaning. Later when I read “The How and Now of Habits” I was in a much better mental space to really understand how important habits are (plus it is a much easier read, you can see my review of it here).
Routines are key
I also learned about creating daily routines from reading FlyLady; her daily emails have really helped me to see how important it is to create small baby steps each day. This is much more effective than trying to make giant sweeping changes all at once.
This is also where I realized how important a solid evening routine is, and why it is so imperative to having a good morning. We all need 7-8 hours of sleep each night, however most of us are not getting anywhere near this amount.
So basically, if you are already sleep deprived – and then you set a goal to get up earlier in order to go workout – you are just setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, figure out what time you would like to get up in the morning, then work backwards from there. You will soon see what time you need to get to bed. Then set the intention to start your bedtime routine one hour before that. Really focus on your bedtime routine – and bed time (I know we are not 8 anymore, but sometimes we need to remember what our mothers told us… and realize they might have been on to something!).
Stop setting goals that you aren’t going to reach anyway. Instead start focusing on building small daily habits that will become the building blocks of an intentional life. Remember, it’s all about the journey, don’t get so caught up focusing on the end that you forget to enjoy the every day.