We’re about half-way through 2020 (first off, how?) which means that it’s a great time to reflect on two things. First, where we were on January 1st as the ball dropped in New York City and we all cheered with friends and family welcoming in the new year. It’s crazy to think that we’re already 6 months from that point. Second, we should reflect on where we are today.
When I say “where”, I don’t mean your location. I mean, where are you in your life? Have you made strides towards your goals? Did you start that new business or cut the sweets out of your diet to lose that extra weight? If you didn’t that’s okay. In fact, it’s pretty common. Forbes reported that over 80% of people give up on their New Year Resolutions after the 2nd week in February!
Why Do We Struggle to Achieve Our Goals?
But why is that? I don’t think that it is laziness or the lack of motivation or willpower. I think it was just how we were raised. We were taught to make huge goals and to “follow your dreams.” We were told to “reach for the moon because if you miss you’ll hit the stars” (or something like that). I could go on forever. But that advice doesn’t create results. It creates a mindset that if we talk about our goals, they will just… happen. That couldn’t be further than the truth.
Earlier this month, I started reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. The book dives into the idea that small consistent improvements over time will reap incredible benefits. Taking one step in the right direction every day will *wait for it* compound over time and take you exactly where you want to go and more.
We Need to Change Our Goals
It’s important to have big goals because if you don’t have a goal, what are you working towards? But we need to change how we look at our goals. We know we aren’t going to get a six pack overnight, and we’re not going to get a 10% raise overnight, either. Still, for some reason that’s how we traditionally view our goals. Instead of beating down that point, I do want to offer a solution. As Hardy talks about in his book, the number one way to achieve your goals is much simpler than we realize.
The Most Important Factor in Achieving Goals
No matter what your goals are, the difference between you accomplishing them comes down to one thing. Habits.
Your habits are essentially the building block to how you live your life. And often, we fall victim to our habits.
We don’t get in shape because we’d rather watch Netflix than go for a run. Starting a business never happens because we are too busy arguing politics on social media. We don’t improve our personal relationships because we are too caught up on the past. Yes, that’s a habit as well.
Our habits often lead us towards things that bring us immediate gratification because that is what is simple. Eating a bag of Doritos is simple, doing push-ups isn’t.
There is a great quote by Jim Rohn where he says “the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people aren’t.”
What does success mean to you? Does it mean you have a big family and are able to support them? Is it to become a millionaire? No matter what it is, you can start to reach for those goals by improving your habits.
Improving Your Habits
Before we start improving our habits, it’s important to understand what they are and how they impact our goals.
After we do that, we can begin to change them or replace them with better habits.
Try This Exercise
Take out a notebook and write down your 3 biggest goals in life. Whatever your goals may be, write them down.
Next, do a quick self-audit. What are your bad habits that are preventing you to achieve that specific goal? Write these down for each of your three goals. You will begin to realize how the things you do every day without realizing are stopping you from becoming the person you want to be.
Read that last sentence.
Become The Person You Want To Be
We all have things about ourselves that we want to improve. And that’s okay! If we were completely satisfied with everything in our lives, life would be pretty boring.
When you look at your 3 goals, think about the person you need to be in order to live that life.
If your goal is to be happy with your body, what would that mean for you as a person? You would probably be someone who routinely went to the gym, drank water instead of soda and ate healthy.
Instead of thinking about what you need to do to reach the goals, think about the person you need to be to live that life.
This is important because you will never go back to the habits you have today once you are this new and improved person in that area of life.
If you just focus on what you need to do, that won’t help you create a habit.
The Fake Diet
The person who wants to lose weight and be healthy will go on a diet that they hate, avoid all sugar and carbs, run every day for 3 months, be miserable and complain every day while doing it… but reach their goal, great!
While it is great that they reach their ideal weight and their goal, they haven’t rooted it in their mind that that is who they are now. They haven’t made “living a healthy lifestyle” part of their identity. They will likely start eating sugar again and getting off that diet because they look good now and can cheat a little.
How many times have you seen this? Someone starts their diet and loses 20 pounds, only to gain it back. It happens because they didn’t form a habit and they didn’t become a person who lives a healthy lifestyle. They went on a diet “because they had to lose weight” not because that is who they were.
If you change your eating and exercise habits for good, you’ll never need to “go on a diet” again. It will be a part of who you are.
Back To The Lists
With that rant over, the second list to make is the habits that would help you achieve those three goals. In the example above, it was improving your eating and exercising habits.
By focusing on these new habits and putting them in place consistently every day, over time you will reach your goals and continue to grow after that.
A Tip For Keeping Track Of Your Goals
One thing I wanted to do was spend less money on pointless expenses so I can save more. This is traditionally a finance blog, so I want to incorporate a little of that here.
Once I finished my two lists of habits, good and bad, I decided it was time to start.
For two weeks, I took note of every purchase I made. Whether it was $20 for gas or $100 for a fancy dinner, it all got tracked.
Doing this did two things for me.
- It made me see just how much money I was spending on stupid and unnecessary purchases.
- It made me re-think some purchases before I went to make them.
I often found myself saying “do I really want to buy this and have to pull out my notebook to log this $5 purchase that I don’t need?”
No matter what your goal is, try logging the activity related to that goal in a journal. It will force you to evaluate your decisions in live time, rather than looking back and trying to remember what you did.
Bringing it Together
Overall, our habits are the driving force for everything we do. I believe that our mindset is one of our most important assets, but sometimes we are given habits that we don’t realize we have by our parents or our environments. It may not be our fault that we do something subconsciously because its a habit formed from our childhood, but it is our fault if we continue to let our bad habits prevent our growth.
By fixing our habits every day and focusing on being 1% every day, we will without a doubt reach our goals.
There is still 6 more months in 2020, so let’s start focusing on ourselves and crush the second half of this year.