For some people it can be very difficult to accomplish their goals and dreams. For example, just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, you may have already given up on your New Year’s resolution at this point! Whether their goals are related to fitness, work, wealth, relationships, or any other area, they may get frustrated easily, be unhappy with their own performance, or lose motivation. One way to get around these mental and emotional barriers is to develop and cultivate positive habits that will enable you to accomplish your goals. Think of your habits as a GPS that will eventually guide you to your desired goal regardless of what direction you take and where you currently are.
I use to have the hardest time sticking to an exercise routine. I would exercise for a couple months by attending boxing classes or going to the gym to lift weights. However, towards the end, I would lose focus and interest. No matter how hard I tried, I just lacked the energy to go back. Now, I have created a habit of consistently working out. I do a recreational sport that I enjoy, which gets me moving and burning calories. It takes very little effort and mental energy for me to show up. Next I add in a variety of weight training, plyometrics, and yoga workouts that keeps things interesting. I do these workouts in the comfort of my own home, therefore the burden of driving out to exercise is no longer there while the workout itself no longer feels like a chore.
Why is It So Difficult?
Accomplishing goals you set for yourself can be difficult for a multitude of reasons. You may have a lot of other competing priorities such as your work, your kids, your friends, etc. Your goals may seem too overwhelming, thereby creating a huge psychological barrier. You may run out of “willpower” several weeks in and give up.
How to Achieve Your Goals
Despite all these barriers, I have found a way that consistently works. The key is to create positive habits that you can stick to. Even though you may not build Rome in a day, you can consistently hammer away at it.
For example, if you have fitness or weight loss goals, you just need to commit to exercising a few times a week and eating the right diet. Start off small and work your way up. If you can’t work your way beyond a certain point, that is fine too. The key is to consistently do it. Eventually, it will become a habit. Some people can form habits in less than 20 days while others may take more than 250 days. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish. Don’t worry too much about your immediate results, just focus on creating the habit of consistently doing a physical activity and sticking to your meal plan. The best workout is the workout you can stick to.
If you have career goals, just chip at it every day when you go to work. Consistently put out high-quality work, look for opportunities to grow, network with the people around you, and maintain a positive attitude. You may not get promoted right away, but eventually, people will notice your commitment, diligence, and attitude. There’s no need to set specific income or promotion goals. As long as you have cultivated the habit of consistently performing well, you will get there either at your current workplace or somewhere else. Opportunities come about when you least expect them to.
If you have wealth goals, such as wanting to accumulate at least $1M by age 50, one way to accomplish this goal is to create a habit of saving and investing. If you automatically deposit $10,000 each year into a stock account and invest it in the market to generate a 7% annual return, you’ll get there in about 30 years. By using an automatic deposit, you’ve already created the habit of saving. In this situation, I recommend committing to the automatic deposit and then figuring out how to manage your lifestyle after you have put away money. Warren Buffett articulates this point beautifully, “"Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving."
Keep It Simple
Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals. Just set a couple goals and cultivate the habits to reach those goals. Having too many goals will prevent you from achieving any of them. Having just a few goals will allow you to concentrate your efforts around those goals. In fact, just transfer the focus and attention on the end results of your goals over to forming and maintaining habits. Don’t even worry about the end result. Eventually, those habits will just be something you do and feel like an integral part of your lifestyle.
Professional Development and Personal Finance Blog