‘’If you have a plan for your life and you consistently stick to it, life gets better. Unlike when you depend on luck.’’ I got this powerful advice from a friend a few months ago when I almost quit my job. My plan was to quit and move abroad for 3 months to work for a different company for a project that had nothing to do with my passion and did not match my skill-set. I was starting to feel like my life was not moving fast enough towards a successful career and more money. Have you been in such a situation before? Feeling stuck and almost giving up on your goals? If yes, here is a solution that works!
First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit is persistence in practice. – Octavia Butler
Why forget your goals and build habits instead?
I know you’ve read many books, articles, watched several videos encouraging you to set goals for your life. You’ve been told time and again that without having them, you will fail. So you went ahead and wrote your goals down, or drew a vision board (like I did), or at least, I’m sure you have taken the time to think about your life goals. Some of us want to make millions of dollars, lose several pounds, be the CEO of a big company, become physically fit, or the most common one, achieve happiness.
As much as all these goals are great and inspirational, a study conducted by the University of Scranton shows that a whopping 92% of us don’t achieve these goals. The reason behind this huge number is simple; gigantic goals are intangible and vague which makes it almost impossible for 92% of the people to achieve. A lot of people end up scared and uninspired to pursue these goals which lead to the failures. The solution is simple; forget working towards your goals and work towards building productive habits. Habits are small and tangible which leads to success in the long run.
First, we make our habits, then our habits make us. – Charles C. Nobel
Difference between habits and goals
If you want to avoid being part of this 92% statistic, do what the other 8% does; which is having productive habits.
Goal: Write a book.
Habit: Commit yourself to write 200 words every day.
Goal: Lose 50 pounds within a year
Habit: Commit to exercising for 30 minutes every day.
Goal: Learn a new language and be fluent within a year.
Habit: Commit to practice for 30 minutes every day. (Duolingo works perfectly for this.)
Goal: Read 52 books every year.
Habit: Commit to reading 25 pages every day.
: Always carry a book with you everywhere-having the book with you will act as a cue.
Goal: Save enough money to last you 6 months in case you lose your job.
Habit: Commit/Automate saving 10% of your monthly income.
Notice my consistency in the use of the word commit? Commitment to routines is what makes the 8% of the world population successful. You will not be a successful person because you exercise once a month, read one book in a year or learn a few Spanish words. You will be successful only if you commit to doing these things consistently.
Routine, in an excellent man, is a sign of ambition. – W.H. Auden
Why goals suck
- Goals have an end – A classic example of this is our education system. We set goals to work hard and get to college/university. As soon as we’re done, we stop learning and some people’s knowledge ends up being obsolete. This leads to a lack of jobs among many graduates simply because they did not acquire an endless learning culture which is what is required to secure a job in the 21st Century. What the education system should have taught us is how to build a reading culture and how to develop our own self-development curriculum.
- Goals make us have an illusion of success – Science has shown that some people confuse goal setting with achievement. I am a perfect example when it comes to this. I used to tell people that I’m a writer way before I started writing. Since I repeated it so many times, my brain believed that I actually was a writer-in real sense, I wasn’t since I had only ever written and published one article! This ultimately led to more procrastination on building my writing habit. Do you have or know a similar story of someone who has told their ‘success’ story so many times they end up believing they’re successful yet they’re not?
- Goals are hard to follow through – If you have a goal to save 5000 dollars, it’s harder for you to achieve it than if you have a simple habit of sending 10% of your earnings to your savings account. With time, this small and easy commitment leads to having a lot in your savings account. Also taking the simple step of saving consistently for a few months gives you the motivation to keep going.
- Sometimes, we do not have control over our goals – For example, we do not have control over inflation when it comes to our financial goals. This is one of those things that makes a lot of people to give up on their saving goals. However, since saving 10% is easier and we have control over it as we already have the money at hand, habits beat goals every time!
- Some goals are intangible – Some people have a goal to be happy. How do you know you are finally happy enough? How do you know you have finally achieved enough happiness? However, if you want to be happy, form a habit of being kind to a random person every day. You will definitely be in a position to tell how many days you have consistently been kind to someone (this someone should include yourself as self-love is key to your happiness)
Losers have goals. Winners have systems. – Scott Adams
Just like me, don’t allow your gigantic goals to make you feel like you are a loser in life. Not anymore! Adopt productive habits and be consistent on them, and don’t forget to tell us in the comment section which habits have been the most transformative.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
As always, see you on the excellence ladder! 🙂