When setting goals as a part of our New Year resolution, we seldom do a reality check. I am talking about the chances of these goals being actually realized. The reason for this circumspection is that most of us don’t have the personal habits to pursue our objectives.
What am I talking about?
You current set of personal habits defines how you manage your time and perform various activities. This includes everything from doing your work diligently to exercising in the gym. Thus, your habits eventually decide the amount of dedication you channel towards your goals. Habits that are not complementary to your purpose will chew away at your chances of success. For instance, if you are planning to write a book this year, but aren’t used to concentrating or ideating, this goal has a slim chance of being realized.
This brings us to the next question—should you pursue your life goals only if they are in harmony with your habits?
The answer to this is slightly tricky. If you do adopt this approach, it might prove to be very restrictive. You might discover that most of your habits are directly opposed to your aim. My trials over the years have yielded a different solution. This is in accordance with the Zen Mind that focuses on decluttering and making life simpler.
Rather than changing my life goals to suit my habits, I chose to evaluate my habits. I divided my habits into two groups—those that support my goals and those that oppose it. More self-introspection revealed that a lot of my daily habits were not conducive to what I wanted to do in life. Changing such a large number of old habits seemed rather overwhelming. To make things easier for myself, I started the approach of pursuing smart goals.
What are smart goals?
Smart goals are essentially the habits that we should develop to achieve bigger, long-term goals. I call these eventual larger goals, Life Goals. For instance, if becoming a published author is one of my life goals, then the habit of regularly reading, writing, and blogging can become a very effective smart goal. Every smart goal directly contributes towards achieving a life goal.
How to approach this?
In sync with the basics of Zen Mind, I use a very honest approach to introspect and categorize my habits. This is vital to ensure that the process of turning beneficial habits into goals doesn’t become overbearing. I prefer writing down my goals. Usually, the list of smarter goals is rather long while there are a few life goals. Some other tips to transform your habits into failure-proof goals include:
1. Make it Simple
Don’t create a long list of daily or long-term habits. Start things in a humble way. Take upon just two or three habits at a time. Don’t overdo the planning bit. Just choose a start date and set the ball rolling. Plan your daily schedule and allocate a specific time to pursue your goals.
2. Test Yourself
It is possible that you go wrong with the planning during your first effort. You might choose habits that are counter-productive to your life goal. So test the habits before turning them into goals. Give yourself a window period of 2-3 weeks.
3. Establish Psychological Enforcers
If you plan to write a book, keep your laptop, your favorite book, a pad, and pen on your bedside table. Announce your new goal to people who regularly interact with you. Every time you shirk working towards your goal, they will remind you to commit better. Maintain a reminder on your mobile or laptop. This will ensure that whenever you procrastinate, there will be an automated push in the right direction.
4. Identify & Pursue Complementary Habits
To write a book (life goal), you can choose to write a page every night before going to bed (smart goal). Now search for complementary daily habits. This could be reading at least one popular blog post from your chosen niche just before switching off the PC or laptop. Reading more will develop your vocabulary and improve the way you express yourself with words.