by Josh Millar
As we approach the new year, there’s often a lot of discussion around large goals. Don’t get me wrong, ambitious goals are valuable, but those goals alone won’t necessarily get us where we want to go. Instead, it’s usually our much smaller repetitive daily actions that make an impact over time. Our habits can really pack a punch when it comes to achievement, but only if we know how to use them effectively. So, how can professionals better harness the power of their habits? Here are a few ideas to get started:
Your habits have the potential to be a great fuel source for your forward progress, but you have to set the direction. Look to your bigger goals for inspiration. What do you want to achieve? What do you want to change? How do you want to improve? When you home in on a few areas that are important to you, you can then identify the habits that will get you there. You want to get healthier? Habits like eating a salad at lunch, taking a walk after dinner, or stopping at the gym after work can help you get there. You can even zoom in on smaller habits to support your progress. Maybe you team up with a friend or family member for your evening walk or pack your bag for the gym the night before. The idea is to look at what you want to achieve big-picture and zoom in to these small actions to make it happen.
Consistency & Commitment
What makes habits so powerful is repetition. They’re something we do consistently, and that consistent effort adds up. This cumulative effect is as true for good habits as it is for bad habits. Though the actions may be small, we can often see their large effects over time. So, if you’ve identified several positive habits you want to build, how can you support consistency? The answer is commitment. If you’re trying to make changes to your current habits, it’s going to take some commit, especially to get started. Holding yourself accountable is important. I highly recommend writing these habits down for yourself. If there’s someone in your life who will support or join you, include them in your mission to cultivate these new habits as well.
One of the best tools to maximize the potential of your habits is to track them. First, this is a great way to increase accountability. When you have a notebook or app waiting for you to check off the box, there’s an added motivation to get it done. You can also monitor your consistency. No one’s perfect and life is so often unexpected, missing one or two days of a habit doesn’t mean you’ve completely fallen off track. A habit tracker can help you get right back on course. It’s also a daily reminder of what you’re working towards. Checking in, seeing your progress, and making the connection between your daily habits and your successes is incredibly motivating.
Finally, trying to ditch 10 new habits and replace them with 10 new and improved ones all at once can be an overwhelming feat. Depending on your current habits, it’s wise to ease into this. While attempting to massively change your routines in one week might backfire, starting small by replacing one or two unhelpful habits with something more useful is great. When you remove a bad habit, you can sometimes leave a gap in your schedule. If you always check your emails before bed, for example, and you want to break that habit, replace it with something that helps you move closer to your goals, like reading a few pages of a book at that time instead. This slow trading in of bad habits for better ones is a great way to revamp your routines over time.
Habits are small but mighty. They’re a resource that is completely within reach, we simply have to choose to utilize it. When you start really tuning in to your habits, you see how transformative they can be. This is even more motivation to continue working with them. Are there any habits that help you progress towards your goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts.