Setting Goals? or Forming Habits? (Planning)

Hope road
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A few times a year, we start to feel the urge to do some goal setting in order to reach our hopes with our personal or professional lives. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I think we focus on the wrong thing.

Maybe instead of setting goals, (or perhaps in cooperation with that practice) we should focus our energy and efforts on forming habits. So it would look more like:

Instead of a goal to lose 10 pounds, developing a habit of exercising 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

Instead of getting a big project done by the end of the month, working steadily on it daily for 30 minutes and let it be finished when it is finished well.

Instead of setting a number of books to read in a year, forming a habit of reading at least 30 minutes a week…or making a habit of finishing one book per month (not necessarily STARTING and finishing one, but finishing one in progress.)

Instead of reaching in-box zero, setting firm appointments with yourself to go through your email. (This one was hard for me to write–I’m a huge fan of in-box zero. But for some, this idea may work better and be less overwhelming.)

Other good habits to consider are

  • Regularly investing in certain relationships (i.e. getting together with friends the third Saturday of the month, etc.)
  • Eating certain healthy foods on a scheduled basis (i.e. pre-plan and repeat your snacks–have the same healthy one planned for each Monday mid-morning, for example.)
  • Using timers to keep your morning or after-dinner routines on track
  • Doing one small chore a day to bless your house/family

Even if you don’t set a specific goal, good habits will generally lead to the kinds of positive outcomes you often shoot for with a goal. They may also be easier to sustain. While it’s great to dream big, it’s the daily actions that will move the needle. Keep your goals in sight, but concentrate on becoming a positive habit forming person. Habits are the fuel that will keep you moving toward your destination.

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Beth Beutler is the Founder/CEO of H.O.P.E. Unlimited, a small business offering collaborative virtual assistance and professional development education/mentoring to Help Overwhelmed Professionals Excel. She has over 30 years of experience in administrative assistance and office management, soft skills training, and writing.