“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”— Charles C. Nobel
We all have, or should have, goals; small goals & big goals are what keep us moving forward in life, and help us become successful. Goals are good; they are positive and helpful. They can keep us on track.
Goals are not all we need.
There is a difference between goals and habits. When we want to accomplish something like getting a promotion, learning a new language, or losing weight; we set a goal. Let’s say we want to be promoted to the next highest level at work. We set a realistic goal to earn that promotion in a year. We set the goal, and we have a plan on how to get there.
There are a couple of things that might happen.
Let’s say you get to the end of the year and you are successful. That’s great, you achieved your goal, but something else also happens. You congratulate yourself, and you settle into your new position. You stop doing all the good things that helped you to reach the goal. You become complacent. You did not create new habits. To maintain your new position, and to keep improving, you need to form habits.
You also do not have complete control over factors that could affect reaching your goal. The company you work for may downsize, and the position you want could be eliminated as a result. You may be in an accident or become ill. We may have an unrealistic view of what is needed to accomplish the goal and decide it is too much effort.
Habits are more relevant and more productive. Habits are instinctual and become an automatic part of your routine.
“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.”―Sean Covey
By changing our focus from achieving specific goals to creating positive long-term habits, we can make continuous improvement a way of life.
Goals rely on motivation that we will receive an award such as an increase in income, or praise from someone we respect and want to impress. They are therefore short term.
Habits are something we do automatically, and so they have a life long effect on virtually everything we do. One example is money. If you want to accumulate and acquire wealth, you establish a habit early on in life that each week you will take a percentage of your pay and put it in savings. You do not use that money for anything else. It will become a habit, something you do not even think about, and an excellent practice to maintain.
If you want to establish a habit of reading or exercise, you can do it. Start small and exercise 10 minutes each day. Do the same with reading, decide to read a chapter a day, or to read for 15 minutes. It will become a habit and one that you automatically do. Quite likely you will do both for an increasing length of time, but always continue to do at least the minimum.
When we want to attain something in our lives, we will do well to invest our time in forming positive habits, rather than concentrating on a specific goal. The goal will end, and the habit will continue.
We need both. We need goals to provide direction and push us forward. They are suitable for the short term. Forming habits gives us the ability to keep performing and continually improve because they guide us all the time; every day.
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”―Stephen Covey
As always, thank you for reading my blog. What are your habits?