Habits and Goals: Why We Need Both
I have been talking a lot about my own habit journey lately, but I wanted to take a step back and talk about how goals are also needed in our lives. Habits are actions that become automatic and subconscious. Goals are an object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. They are different things but complement each other very nicely.
Establishing a goal can be a very scary proposition because at some point we have all created goals for ourselves and fallen a bit short. New Year’s resolutions come to mind and the actual statistics on people who stick to their resolutions or goals are very low.
How can we get better at achieving our goals?
How about looking at the habits that are needed to gain the skills to achieve our goals.
A common goal I hear as a professional fitness coach is "I want to run a half marathon". I understand that running is a very basic and primal movement for most human beings; this is often the talk at the water cooler in a lot of offices too. Someone in the office thinks it’s a good idea to try this half-marathon, but their plan to prepare is to “just run” 21km. That’s a lot of running and it takes a lot of prep work to make sure your body is ready to handle it.
How can we get people ready for this sort of goal?
I would start by asking how many days a week you are currently running and start from there, if it’s zero days then we need to start with one or two days a week and create a strong habit of committing to training. Having a coach in place can go a long way to creating the strong habits needed for goal setting. If you don’t have a coach, then I would suggest starting with some smaller goals like running consistently for at least 3 months before deciding on the half marathon.
In broader terms, establishing some smaller goals (weekly, monthly, quarterly) and working on the habits that are needed to achieve those goals is a great way to gain momentum, confidence, and the skills needed to achieve them. Remember that you will always have setbacks along the way but keep working on the habits that give you the tools needed to achieve your goals. It doesn’t matter if you are training for something in the gym or working towards a promotion at work, you need to have solid habits to crush your goals.