One of the biggest goal setting mistakes that people make is that they set goals, yet they don’t change their habits.
What if I told you that all the results in your life, good or bad, are due to your habits.
The amount of money that you earn.
The level of your health.
The quality of your relationships.
All of these are a result of your habits.
The Secret to Goal Achievement
The secret to goal achievement is NOT about setting compelling goals, it’s about creating a set of habits that will move you toward what you want.
Every item in The ULTIMATE Goal Setting Checklist is a micro-habit that work together to create extraordinary results.
Let dive into the first item from The HABIT Checklist.
Inventory Your Habits
The first step is to become aware of your existing habits.
The challenge is that habits happen outside of our conscious awareness (that’s why they are called habits).
Grab a notebook and make a note of all of your regular routines, thoughts, and behaviours that happen throughout your day.
Keep your notebook with you throughout the day and continue to add to your list. You will be surprised as to the number of automatic patterns that you discover.
Rate Your Habits
Beside each habit, add a plus sign (+) next to any positive habits, add a minus sign (-) next to any negative habits, and add an equal sign (=) next to any neutral habits.
Here’s my list from this morning:
- Woke up =
- Brushed my teeth +
- Meditated for 20 min +
- Morning stretches +
- Grabbed a cup of coffee =
- Distracted by email –
- Negative self-talk (about being distracted by email) –
- Reviewed my priority list +
- Started writing +
As a guideline, a positive habit is anything that has a long-term benefit, and a negative habit is anything that is a distraction or has long-term negative consequences.
Choose Positive Habits
Now it’s time to make a list of positive habits.
The next item on the HABIT Checklist is to “identify the positive habits that will enable you to achieve the next level in each of your roles.”
We are going to cover roles in a future checklist. For know, identify 2 or 3 positive habits for each of the following areas of focus:
- Meaningful Relationships
- Extraordinary Health
- Personal Growth
- Work That Matters
- Financial Freedom
- Just 4 Fun
We touched on the keystone habit back in the DAILY Checklist.
A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the top of an arch. It locks all the other stones into position, allowing the span to bear weight.
Your keystone habit is the habit that holds all of your other routines in place because you do it consistently, at the same time even day, no matter what.
The secret of the keystone habit is that all of your other habits (habit stack) automatically kick-in because they are built around it.
My keystone habit happens to be 20 minutes of meditation. I do this every morning, first thing when I wake up, every single day, no matter what.
It’s the habit that holds all of my other habits in place. If I miss this habit, my habit stack falls apart.
The Habit Stack
Have you ever made a change in one area only to find that this upgrade cascades into other areas of your life?
This last summer we renovated our kitchen. This one change cascaded into multiple changes; An updated main floor bathroom, new furniture in the adjoining family room, and new blinds and curtains all around. We even gutted our ensuite bathroom which is on a completely different floor.
Habit stacking is the process of creating a cascade of positive habits. Just like the home reno spilling over to other areas of the house, you change one habit and build upon that success with additional positive habits.
Once you have your keystone habit in place, identify the next positive habit and start growing your habit stack.
Never Break The Streak
This tip comes from comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
Jerry knew that to become a great comedian he had to learn how to tell better jokes. So he picked up a wall calendar and drew a big red X for each day that he completed his task.
Jerry motivated himself to complete this task, day in and day out, by making a commitment, never to break the chain of X’s.
This method helped Jerry maintain consistency and kept his streak of good behaviour alive.
The secret is to measure your progress. It doesn’t matter if you use a wall calendar or a habit tracking app. You want to start counting each day you complete your new habit.
Before you know it, you will see your chain of success getting longer and longer. Keep going! And make a commitment never to break the streak!
Don’t try to change too many habits at once.
I suggest that you only work on one new habit at a time and avoid adding another until the current one becomes a consistent routine.
What happens if you fall off the wagon?
Continue to be mindful about practicing non-judgement. Let go of any negative self-talk and just start again.
Yup, pick yourself up, and just start again.
The HABITS Checklist covers a lot of ground in the area of goal setting and achievement.
First, create an inventory of your current habits and identify both the negative and positive.
Second, identify your keystone habit and start building your habit stack.
Third, measure your habits by never breaking the streak and if you do, just start again.
Remember that the secret to goal achievement is NOT about setting compelling goals, it’s about creating a set of habits that will move you toward what you want.
Stayed tuned for the next article in this series where we will take a deep dive into mindset.
P.S. What’s one thing that you are going to apply today? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comments below.
The Ultimate Goal Setting Checklist
Everything you need to know about setting goals that you can actually achieve.