Create New Habits that Propel you Towards your Goals
Are your habits supporting your priorities and driving you towards your goals? With all the changes we have experienced this year, many old habits have been broken, but by now, we have formed new habits just to get from day to day. Many may be helpful, but some may not be. The eve of the new year is a great time to review habits we want to keep and the ones we want to change.
In “Don’t’ Sweat the Small Stuff At Work”, Dr. Richard Carlson’s Tip #27, “Examine your Habits and Be Willing to Change Some of Them” is great recommendation and very timely.
As you consider your current habits, ask yourself if they are bringing you closer to success or pushing it farther away. Focus on the habits that derail you and decide to replace them with habits that push you towards your goals.
Unraveling Habit Loops
In the Power of Habit, Peter Duhigg tells us that we form habits to automate repeating activities so we can dedicate our brain power to other things. We form habit loops that start with a trigger and end with a reward that keeps the habit in place for the next time the trigger happens.
To change an established habit, break the loop. Either change the trigger or change the reward.
Creating New Habits
Here is how to create a new habit, step-by-step.
- Analyze the new habit. Identify the trigger, the action, and the reward.
- The trigger can be a thought or condition that will kick off the action.
- Break the action into a series of steps. For each step, make sure you have everything you need. For example, to start a morning stretching routine, decide when and where and then put a description of your routine in a place where you can review them as you do the stretches.
8 Habits That Guarantee Success
If find yourself wondering what you accomplished at the end of the week or the end of the day, create these new habits and watch your accomplishments stack up.
- Make a to-do list each night. Start the day with a bang by having carefully chosen your activities and priorities for the following day. You’ll sleep better by having one less thing on your mind. You’ll get more done by not spending your morning trying to plan your day.
- Ruthlessly prioritize your activities. No matter what your goal might be, there is one action that is more important than the rest. Determine that action and make it your focus until it is complete. After making your to-do list, chisel it down to the most important activity and start your day there.
- While others are focused on doing what’s easiest, you’ll be working on what’s most effective. The difference is considerable.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Many claim to do just fine on 4-6 hours of sleep, but recent studies have shown that no one is as effective with 6 hours of sleep as they are with 7. If you’re getting less than 7 hours each night, you’re under-performing.
- Review your day each night. Imagine how much easier life would be if you avoided making the same mistakes. Reviewing your day and acknowledging your successes and failures is an effective way to avoid making the same errors over and over. Start with the morning and work sequentially through your day.
- Ask yourself, “What could I have done better?” Establish a more effective alternative for the next time.
- Also be sure to review your successes. Labeling them as such will increase the likelihood of them happening again.
- Exercise daily. Exercise not only strengthens your health, but it also improves your alertness and self-esteem. The vast majority of successful people report exercising each day, rain or shine. It doesn’t matter when you exercise, but most high-achievers make time in the morning.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is all the rage today, but the idea has been around for at least 2500 years. Mindfulness is detached awareness of your surroundings and thoughts. It’s keeping your mind on the task at hand. Avoid worrying about the future or regretting the past. Your day will be more productive and enjoyable.
Take it One Step At A Time
Before you get started, make sure those new habits support your top priorities. If you are not sure, read (or listen to) last week’s article, Do this Before You Set New Year’s Resolutions. With your priorities clear, decide to change or form one habit that supports your top priority. By focusing on one trigger, one change and one habit at a time, your new habits will stick. If you try to make big changes all at once, you will become overwhelmed and frustrated and quickly revert back to the old habits and your old ways.
- Review your habits and identify the ones that are holding you back. Be willing to change them.
- Define new habits based on your priorities, not on someone else’s list, not even mine.
- Work on one new habit at a time. Repeat your actions until they merge into a new habit that takes you towards your goals. Then, start working on creating your next new habit.
Every new habit you form will become a stepping stone to your goals and the life you want.