In order to start your journey towards success and begin developing successful habits you first need to have some goals.
Learning how to set goals properly isn’t complicated, but it does need to be done the right way. One very important aspect that many disregard about goal setting, is that the journey is equally as important – and at times even more important – than the actual end result.
When we have goals and are on track to reaching them, we tend to be content, happy. But our happiness isn’t going to become permanent when finally reach those goals. The happiest people are those who are working towards grand goals – or work on maintaining an achieved “grand goal.” Hence the importance of choosing goals for which you enjoy the actual journey to achieving them.
Why do Goals matter when developing positive habits?
You might be wondering just what the purpose of setting goals actually are in the context of developing positive habits….
Bottom Line: You cannot achieve success without setting clear goals, nor can you form good habits without goals.
You can try to force yourself to do something habitually, but without a goal behind your new habits, those habits have no power and they will not stick, even if you do follow the steps required to get them to become permanent.
Setting the new goal is not only designed as motivation; it is also your blueprint – or the “engine” to power the new positive habit.
One of the best ways to set goals that will support you in adopting new positive habits, is to use the YEAR-MONTH-WEEK model. This is a goal setting model that is similar to the LONG-TERM/SHORT-TERM model that most people are familiar with. However, YEAR-MONTH-WEEK is a much more effective model in today’s world, where we measure success in those clearly defined periods of time.
If you are lucky enough to be reading this in January, then you have a great opportunity to create a perfect goal structure. If not, then you have a couple of choices: either set your plans for “the rest of the year,” regardless on how many months are left, or you can set your longest goal period over the next 12 months, no matter what month you start in.
Those goals for the 12 month period are your long-term goals. This 12-months period will be the guide you will use to create the habits that’ll ensure achievement of these goals.
First, let’s set some sample goals so that you can see how the process works. Let’s start with some simple example goals for the 12 months period:
- Learn a new language
- Improve website traffic
- Lose some weight
- Read more books
The problem with these goals is that while they definitely tell you what you should be working on, they aren’t clearly defined enough to create habits based on them. So, let’s make these goals something with a definite achievement point.
Goal 1: Learning a New Language
Instead of learning a new language as a goal, let’s use something that you can actually measure. For example, suppose you used the popular (free) language learning website Duolingo.
Duolingo allows you to learn a specific amount of XP (Experience Points) each day that you study your language. It also tracks your learning so that you can know when you are 100% fluent. This is perfect for a goal because you can set a goal of becoming X percent fluent rather than the rather vague (and maybe impossible) goal to learn a new language in a year. As a side note, you should also choose your language.
Goal 2: Improve Website Traffic
This goal assumes that you have some type of website (possibly one that is making money) that you want to get more traffic to.
In this case, your goal simply identifies your objective without a specific end point. If you increase web traffic by a single visitor, you will have achieved your goal, and that’s probably not what (the hypothetical) you had in mind.
Set some specific goals, such as increase traffic to 1000 visitors per month; and ideally pinpoint the strategies you’ll use, such as FB and/or Google Ads, Social Media Engagement, Influencer Marketing, etc.
Goal 3: Lose some weight
Okay, this is a common goal, but again, it’s not specific. Lose how much weight? By when? If you don’t have a clearly defined timeline, you aren’t going to be able to develop the habits you need that’ll allow you to reach that goal.
Goal 4: Read more books
You are probably getting the hang of it by now. How many more books do you want to read? If you are planning for a year, then you need to realistically choose how many you will be able to get through. And, of course, identify the titles you’ll read.
Let’s rewrite those original goals that we have identified into ones that will actually help you create power effective habits that’ll support you in achieving them.
Here are some examples of these goals with more specifics and a timeline:
· Goal 1: Within the next 12 months become 25% fluent in Spanish using Duolingo – be able to hold a basic small-talk conversation
· Goal 2: Improve Website Traffic by 50% in the next 90-days (JV Strategies, FB Ads, Social Media Posts)
· Goal 3: Lose 20 pounds, 8 inches from waist in the next 12-months; Lose 5 lbs in the next 90-days.
· Goal 4: Read 10 Fiction Books & 10 Nonfiction Books in the next 12 months ( – list at least 5 titles here – )
So, once you have some reasonable, specific 12-month goals, you want to break them down into shorter 30 days goals.
Remember, your key to success is 30 days of training a habit until it gets anchored and becomes effortless.
Creating Positive Habits-forming Short Term Goals
Now that you have your long-term goals, it’s time you break down these goals into shorter, monthly ones that will help you activate your daily power habits.
Remember, the goals themselves are simply a destination. Now, you have to create action-steps and habits to support your journey to achieving these goals.
It also helps if you create smaller sub-goals – or intermediary steps that lead to each goal – that give you a much more manageable short-term achievement within a 30 day period; then break them down to DAILY GOALS.
For example, if we were to use the Weight Loss goal, you can create some specific short-term goals:
- Identify healthy delicious recipes that include weight-loss friendly ingredients
- Identify a form of exercise that helps getting in shape, yet doesn’t feel like exercise (Frisbee, mountain biking, tennis, etc.)
- Plan my meal-plan for the week
- Join meet-up groups or find some groups for ultimate Frisbee and mountain biking
- Commit to attend at least 2 Frisbee and 2 mountain biking sessions per week in the 1st 30 days; and alternate between the two, starting in Month #2
- Get rid of junk food from my fridge and pantry
Look at each goal individually and figure out how you are going to break it down. The YEAR-MONTH-DAY system is great for using habits to reach goals, but just be aware that you don’t have to worry too much if all you have is a destination goal – one that is specific and measurable – and some habits that will take you there.
Now that we set our Powerful Positive Habit Forming Goals, in the next post we’ll discuss how to identify our ineffective habits and how to replace them with powerful positive habits.
I’ll see you soon in the next post!
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services!