I had this discussion in a goal review session recently. This discussion happened because, at first glance, an item on my client’s plan looked like a goal. Yet, when we talked about it, it became clear it was a habit.
In my workshop, I discuss habits. I make it a practice to improve or add a new habit each quarter. I choose the habit I want to improve, change or create based on what I have experienced in the last quarter, what I will need to make my goals a success, or what I want to improve.
Sometimes, though, a habit sneaks its way into a goal position.
So how do you know when something is a goal or a habit?
It starts first by understanding the difference between a goal and a habit: A goal is expected at some time to finish, and it is a one-time activity. In comparison, a habit is something that you will do often and regularly, and you will do the habit in an ideal state without even thinking of it.
I believe that to be successful, you need BOTH goals and habits. I explained this in my blog “goals set the direction, but how do you get to the destination?” The goals give you a destination. However, a habit ensures you do what is necessary to move towards that goal. In my case, it’s a systematic process of setting up my month, week, and day, to ensure I work on the right activities for my business. This includes working on the activities to move my goals forward.
However, the habits that usually sneak their way into a goal position are built to help you improve overall.
On its own, a goal to complete a specific book looks like a goal. However, it’s a habit if the desire is to read a little every day. A goal to run a 5K race is a habit if you want to increase your physical activity by running regularly.
The goal might be to read that book or do that 5K race, but it is just a measurement/milestone of the real purpose of creating a habit.
You can often see a habit vs. a goal if you build a map because it appears as something you want to do each week. When you see a weekly task on your map, check-in with yourself and find out if it is a goal, a habit, or a success activity (this is a subject for a future blog).
When I’m working on one-time tasks, I use my habit/process of planning my month/week/day to ensure these tasks happen. Once done, it is over. I mark it off and likely never repeat that task again. If it is something I want to happen regularly, I need to approach this differently.
When will I do this repeating task? The more consistent and specific I can make it, the more I can build the habit. How can I set up my environment, so I make achieving this task easy? What friction is there that makes it challenging to accomplish the task? What can you do to remove or reduce the friction?
Here is a quick example: My goal is to finish a specific book. I set the goal when really I want to develop a habit of reading every day. Once I realize it is a habit, then I make some changes.
Initially, the goal was: I am celebrating completing the book “Profit First” by June 30th, 2022, or sooner. But then I change it to: I will read for 10 minutes every morning before eating my breakfast. I will also set up my environment to make it easy to do this. For example, I will leave the book on the counter, so I see it before I make/eat breakfast. I will put an app on my phone or set an alarm that I can launch when I start reading. I may even ensure that I purchase things that will make breakfast easy in the morning so I’m not tempted to pass on the reading to make a big breakfast.
Do you see how it shifts? The goal is just a set of tasks, and I could map out when I would have chapter 1 done, chapter 2, etc., and then schedule this in my plans. However, as a habit, I try to build it into my lifestyle by giving it a spot in my day and making it easy to do.
Take a look at your goals and map. Do you have habits disguised as goals?
It’s all about momentum. You have to have great habits and a big vision. Hannah Hoffman
It’s all about momentum. You have to have great habits and a big vision.
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