How many times have you set out to improve your life? Several of us set out to make radical changes at the end of the year and for our birthdays, but how many of us really make it? The answer is VERY few.
Many times, we get confused in setting goals and creating new habits. What do we really need to be able to make positive changes in our lives and maintain them?
1. Establishing the difference between goal and habit: A habit is a continuous action that, most of the time, is done unconsciously. We can say that it is a process and it is long term. A goal is something short-term and conscious with an objective in mind. That is, a goal is reached or completed but a habit is repetitive and maintained. Habits lead us to achieve our goals.
2. Identifying necessary goals and habits: We need to identify what we want to achieve. What will be our goal? Once we know where we want to go, we need to consider what we need to get there. For example, if our goal is to win a marathon, we must acquire the habit of exercising every day and gradually it will be something that our body will demand, and we will do it almost automatically. Our final destination is to participate in the marathon (goal) but for that we need to exercise every day (habits) to be able to improve our physique and endurance. The goal is short-term as it ends once we finish the marathon but the habit - the need to exercise every day - will continue with us in the long term.
3. Focus on the process and not the final destination: We have a habit of wanting to give a 180-degree turn to our lives, and we want a total change from one day to the next. Unfortunately doing this is counterproductive and leads to frustration. Continuing with the example above, we will have neither the physique nor the resistance for a marathon with a single day of training, even if we spend all day in the gym. In these cases, we should always have the goal as a starting point or a direction, but our attention and emotions in the day to day, in other words in the process, in the formation of a new habit.
4. 80/20 rule: This rule is useful in all areas of our lives and especially when we want to reach a goal and acquire a new habit. We should always ask ourselves, what 20% of our effort produces 80% of our results? With the example of our training for the marathon, we must study, analyze, and specify which exercise or routine performing it 20% gives us 80% of the desired result. So - endurance running every day is a minimal effort (20%) but is 80% of our final goal's purpose.
5. Eliminate bad habits: No human being is perfect, therefore we all have at least one bad habit. We need to identify what activities we do that takes us away from achieving our goals and are hampering our path to our final destination. To eliminate a bad habit, we must analyze why it is negative and its consequences. This way every time we do it we can rationalize the reason we must eliminate it immediately. Following the example of the marathon, if we have the bad habit of not drinking water, we must rationalize that the human body needs to hydrate and more if it is exercising. We know that the lack of hydration will affect us in the marathon and our physical condition in general.
6. Introduce new habits: After knowing where we want to go, how we are going to get there and what we have to do, comes the difficult part, introduce a new habit. At first, we will have to struggle to carry out the new desired activity but gradually we will require less effort, and then we will do so as part of our lives, with barely any thought about it. For example, when we were little our parents fought with us to brush our teeth, at first we forced ourselves, but today we already do it as part of our routine and does not cause us any discomfort, on the contrary, if we do not do it we feel uncomfortable, with the feeling that something lacks us.
7. Monitor your process: It is necessary to monitor our process either ourselves or by finding a person who identifies with our desired goals and habits. If we do it ourselves it is important that we keep a record of the days where we have carried out the desired activity and the days that we have not. At the end of the month, we will see how our efforts have been and what we must improve. If we do it with someone else, we must motivate each other and be honest with them. This person should be someone who shares our goals and desires to acquire new habits.
"Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity" -St. Augustine