I had a lightbulb moment while planning my goals for 2021: most goals take a good bit of work to reach.
Ok, before you yell “duh!” in my face, I think it’s shockingly easy to get tied up in big, exciting goals without actually realizing the work they’ll entail.
That’s why this year, I focused on turning my big goals into smaller, consistent habits.
Here’s why I think you should consider doing the same:
Turning your goals into habits helps you see the path forward
Making big, exciting goals is fun, but they can become daunting and discouraging if you’re not planning for the actual work they’ll entail. Turning your goals into habits puts the focus back on the work it’ll take to get there. You can actually see your path forward to success.
Building a bigger Instagram audience sounds great, but also really difficult. Making a habit of posting 3 times per week, on the other hand, sounds totally possible. And you can just about guarantee a regular posting habit will help you reach your bigger goal.
Habits help you make consistent progress
Most goals take time to reach and require regular work over the course of the year. Turing those goals into habits helps you make incremental progress. You won’t get stuck at the end of the year with a ton of work to do trying to catch up.
One of my goals this year is to read 50 books. That means I need to read about 1 book per week. This is definitely not the type of goal I could start halfway through the year and expect to finish. Instead, I’m building a daily reading habit. I’ll be staying on track and making a little bit of progress toward my goal every day.
You have to be realistic
When you decide to turn a goal into a regular habit, you have to be really realistic about whether it’s something you can and want to do. Can you commit to working on this goal regularly over the course of the year? Or are you only excited about the end point? If you’re not down to put in regular work toward your goals, you’re not likely to reach them.
Want to run a 5k this year? Great! But that means you’ll probably need a regular training schedule where you run a couple times per week. If you don’t actually want to build a running habit—and are more interested in the shiny medal at the end of the race—it might be time to rethink your goal.
Habits help you build toward bigger goals
Once you’ve built a regular habit and made it part of your regular routine, it’s pretty likely you’ll stick with it even after you reach that first milestone. You have the momentum, so why stop there?
Maybe you added that regular running habit to your routine and enjoyed it. Since that habit’s already in place, getting to a bigger goal—like running a 10k—is completely within reach.
You’re creating the life you want today
Thinking up lofty dreams for a future, imagined life is one of the most exciting things about setting goals. As inspiring as those goals are, they often aren’t based in the life you have right now. Turning those dreamy, future goals into tangible habits means building the life you want in the present moment—not waiting around for your dream life.
One of my big, exciting goals is to move to the west coast. Covid has thrown a wrench into that plan, but I can still make progress on it by shifting it into a habit. I’m creating a regular habit of decluttering my home because present-day-me wants to live with less stuff, and future-me wants an easy cross-country move. Win-win!
Need a way to keep track of all your new habits? Shop my habit tracker and other goal-setting printables in my Etsy shop.
Interested in reading more about habits? Check out this post about how I make and track habits.