Your Goals Don’t Matter: Part III

 When you want to make a new habit, it’s important to think of a bigger reason than just simply “I want to lose 10 lbs. for vacation,” otherwise you’ll most likely backslide after that event is over.

But what are some tactics to establish new habits? I’m going to give you ideas and real-life examples.

First, start small and be specific.

Instead of telling yourself that you’re going to read 52 books this year, how about reading just 2 minutes each day? If that sounds too little to be worth it, then that’s the point. Isn’t it better to get your 2 minutes of reading done and keep reading if you have the time, but also be allowed to stop if you have a busy day? Starting small will give you the consistency you need to keep a good habit, and being specific will allow you to know whether you did it or not instead of some arbitrary goal of “reading more.”

Real life example: Last year I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted, so this year instead of just saying “I want to read more,” I set a goal to read a book (physical or Kindle) 10 minutes each day.

Second, reduce (or increase) friction.

Your environment matters so much when it comes to establishing new habits. “Friction” is a way to think about how easy or hard you make your environment as it relates to your habits. E.g. having treats in the house makes it that much easier to eat them (especially during a pandemic and winter while we’re inside our homes 99% of the time)

If you want to reduce a habit like unhealthy eating, try increasing the friction of eating unhealthy snacks. Hide them, put them in hard-to-open containers, or better yet, don’t buy them at all. Or if you tend to snooze in the morning, increase the friction of hitting that snooze button by charging your phone across the room so you have to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Or if you want to spend less time on social media, hide the Instagram app in a folder on your phone or just delete it altogether.

If you want to increase or start a habit, then reducing the friction around that habit will help you. Want to workout in the morning? Wear your workout clothes to bed so you don’t have to think about it in the morning. Want to save more money? Setup an auto draft to a specific savings account so you don’t have to manually transfer money.

Real life example: At one point last year I realized I was checking email on my phone way too often. While I didn’t delete the app, I moved it to a folder and stuck it on the 3rd page of that folder so I don’t unconsciously just click it anytime I unlock my phone.

Third, be consistent.

When it comes to establishing new habits, this is probably the most important. Being consistent is not only what makes the change that you want, but also molds those behaviors into a habit that you don’t have to think about (or at least truly becomes a habit).

Consistency might mean everyday for some tasks if they’re small enough (e.g. brushing your teeth), or it might mean periodically (e.g. working out 3x/week)

The biggest mistake with consistency is related back to the first point of starting small. Everyone starts out so motivated and sets goals that are simply too lofty and unsustainable. Better to say “I’m going to workout 2x this week” and increase the frequency than it is to say “I’m going to workout everyday!”

Real life example: I set goals of doing 8 minutes of mobility each day and workout 4x/week. These are low enough to be consistent with them so that over the course of a year, they will give me at LEAST 48+ hours of stretching and 208 workouts.

Which one of these tactics stood out to you the most? What kinds of habits are you focusing on this year and what will you do start small, address friction, and/or be consistent?

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