Instead of goals I like to develop habits for my personal development. Last week I mentioned that I don’t usually set goals because I feel bad when I don’t reach them. You might love goals and that’s great if they work for you. But some people don’t do as well with them. With a focus on habits instead, you and I are much less likely to feel that we are failing if we don’t perform perfectly.
Let’s take exercise as an example. You might decide to set up a habit of walking and jogging 2 miles a day. There’s no need to define exactly what result you will get in a specific amount of time. The intention is to practice daily. Every day you either do your two miles or you don’t. On the days you do it, you can be proud of yourself. And on the days you don’t manage quite as far or even any distance, it’s ok. You can just pick up where you left off the next day. Little by little you are making progress.
On the other hand, if the goal is to be able to run a full 5K within a month, you will need to set landmarks to track your progress along the way. There is a greater likelihood of not reaching the goal within the time. Because there may be all sorts of factors that get in the way. Perhaps you have to travel and get out of routine. Or you get a virus and need to take a break from exercise. Maybe some friends come to stay for a few days and take up all your time.
These kinds of distractions are typically the things that prevent us from achieving a goal. Because if we are not on track with our progress, we are much more likely to feel bad and give up altogether. But if we focus on establishing a habit, then we take each day as it comes. We still make progress, but with our focus on the habit forming, the results can come as a pleasant surprise. They’re a happy side effect of building the habit.
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