Goals and habits are often confused…they can work together, but goals alone don’t lead to sustainable results.
Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed. This is the endpoint; the target.
Habit: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become nearly or completely involuntary. This is the behavior you exhibit on a regular basis.
Goals alone, without these daily behaviors, can lead to dangerous, unhealthy and unrealistic expectations or actions.
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” ~Steven Covey
Habits help you turn difficult, complex processes into small, manageable, incremental, easy tasks.
Let’s take an example, you want to lose 20 pounds. This is a goal.
It doesn’t give you any direction on how you’ll lose the weight or what actions you’ll take. It just gives you the endpoint, the target.
This could lead you to unhealthy choices like exercising 2-3 hours per day, reducing calorie intake to 500 per day, or taking on something like the cabbage soup diet. Anything to accomplish that target.
If however, you approach this target by creating healthy habits, you may choose to focus on daily behaviors such as waking up 30 minutes earlier so you can start each day with activity. This is a small, daily action you could take every day that can take you toward your goal. The focus is really more on the daily action than the endpoint. Easy. One small action each day. Way less daunting.
Once this behavior becomes automatic (something you don’t even have to think about), you can add in a new behavior. Again, one small action you can take every day.
Maybe this is focusing on eating slower without any distractions.
Every day – set aside sufficient time to slowly consume your meals so that you can be more conscious of your satiety and allow your body to ease into digestion. This behavior can lead you to avoid overfilling on food. You may just find you don’t need to eat as much and you won’t be nearly as bloated and weighed down by your meals.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
These daily, minuscule actions make us who we are.
Who do you want to be? What habits are you working on?