How Habits can Change What You Think About Goals

Unresolved resolutions

Do you have a hard time setting and finishing goals? Well, join the club.

Static Brain Institute suggests that:

  • 37.8 Percent of people in their twenties achieve their resolution each year
  • 16.3 Percent of people over 50 achieve their resolution each year

So luckily you and I are not alone. But unfortunately, you and I are not alone.

Goals can be hard to keep. But why is that?Why is it so hard to keep goals?

According to Hal Hershfield, an assistant professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, “The present acts as a magnifying effect for our emotions,” Hershfield says — which means a desire right in front of us feels more powerful than a long-term one and can pull us away from that goal.

Whatever is in front of you when you try to get something done can actually work against you. You need a stronger force to push you through when you have a mental block or when you just don’t feel like it?

Habit is a strong force

Start with habits.

Habit: a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior.

I’m horrible with goals but I can make myself do certain things over and over. But I need to start before I get to the place where I don’t want to do something.

Instead of setting goals that can paralyze you, figure out what are the small steps you will need to do in order to achieve that goal.

For example, when I was going to college I would get overwhelmed with the thought of all the classes it would take to get my bachelors. But forming a habit of studying every day wasn’t as overwhelming. And by forming a habit to study every day I would pass my class. Which meant I was one class closer to reaching my goal. Eventually, after doing this long enough, I passed all the required classes and reached my goal.

Another example is when I wanted to get serious about having a good quiet time every day. I tried but just couldn’t seem to get around to it. Something always came up or I was just too tired. So I decided I need to do it early in the morning. First I got in the habit of getting up a few minutes early and have increased the time to the point where I have as much as an hour every morning to have my devotional time.

It wasn’t easy, but little by little I formed a habit that allows me to have a significant consistent time to read the Bible, pray and still have time to read any other book I’m interested in. Habits are strong forces that can get you where you want to be.

Setting Habits

So what habits do you need to form?

  • Getting into shape? Get in the habit of eating less or going to the gym three times a week.
  • Getting out of debt? Get in the habit of taking your lunch to work or not going to shopping center unless you really need to.
  • Taking your Bible study to the next level? Get in the habit of getting up ten or fifteen minutes earlier.
  • Want to write a book or start a blog? Get in the habit of writing at least five to ten minutes a day.

The great thing about setting habits is that they don’t have to be overwhelming. You can make big changes with small changes.

Here are some other resources to take you further:

Set Habits, Not Goals

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

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