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Goals are vitally important as they give is something to aim for and signify an intention to grow. Goals are one thing that all successful people have in common. They not only make goals, but they make stretch goals (big, hairy, audacious goals) regularly.

Sadly only 3 % of the population create meaningful goals, (probably because we were never taught the importance). Instead, New Year’s Resolutions have become the fashion. However, whilst 41% of people make New Year’s Resolutions – only about 8% actually achieve them.

One of the reasons many of us find it hard to reach our goals and resolutions is because it means we have to do something differently to what we are doing now. It makes sense that if we keep doing what we’ve always done we are just going to keep getting what we’ve always got. The key to this though is that we have to keep doing that different ‘thing’ consistently until we start to achieve the desired outcome and even then we have to continue with it to maintain our dream. And that means creating new habits. New rituals. Elements to our lives that will become as automatic to us as cleaning our teeth.

Research tells us that a habit isn’t created overnight and there are various statistics that suggest that it can take anywhere from 21 – 90 days for a habit to be truly embedded – the duration of which is very much dependant on the individual’s personality and their circumstances at the time. Unfortunately, with such busy lives even 21 days can be an awful long time to remember to add something into our routine.

Another factor to consider is that some people are ‘away from’ people and some people are ‘towards’ people. This means you are either motivated to move away from pain (you are sick and your Doctor tells you to lose weight for your health) or you are motivated for pleasure (you want to look great in your Wedding Dress and this is the motivation to lose weight). In both these instances it’s the reward (no pain or sickness / amazing photos in the Wedding Dress) that motivates you to continue.

So how can we use this information to support us in creating healthy new habits?

#1 Whatever new habit you introduce – perhaps its finding time to exercise or plan your day, LINK IT TO SOMETHING THAT IS ALREADY A HABIT. When I realised I needed to shake things up in my life, I built in a programme I learned from Robin Sharma (one of the world’s top leadership experts). Every time my alarm goes off in the morning I immediately (no pause, no snooze – just immediate feet on floor) implement the 20/20/20 rule. This means 20 minutes exercise / 20 minutes meditation / 20 minutes planning for the day. There are no exceptions. I then pick up with my previous ‘automatic actions’ of having breakfast and brushing my teeth. By repeating this day in day out, the brain creates new neural pathways to cement this as an automatic routine.

#2 As a reward for doing this (and in the early days I needed a reward as my alarm was set for 1 hour earlier than before!) my breakfast went from being a snatched bowl of cereal or slice of toast to smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – a breakfast I usually reserve for holidays or lazy weekends. Your treat may be something different – but make your reward worthwhile to you and something you can enjoy almost instantly, or at least on the same day.

#3 To support my motivation for doing this I had 20/20/20 plastered around the house, on my lap top screen saver and on my mobile devices – creating a constant reminder that this was my new habit (just until it was embedded and then it was replaced with a new habit I wanted to form!) You may decide to have a picture of you in/with your end goal as a visual cue to what you are working towards – either helps your brain to code in that this is important to you.

My partner used the same technique to introduce a regular practice of meditation into his day and it has worked like a dream. He decided to link this new ‘habit’ with his evening meal. If we dine out, he meditates before we leave home, if we are eating in, he retires directly after his meal for 20 minutes. It has just become the norm and none of us have to think around it or consciously remember that it’s part of his day.

Give it a try, I’m confident it can help you with implementing new habits that will take you towards your goals

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