2017 is quickly approaching and it is easy to become excited for the New Year. We all have the opportunity to become someone new, enhance our career, start a business, become healthy, among other possibilities.
Yet, we all know it’s not that easy.
Achieving professional and personal goals takes real effort. We do not wake up overnight healthy with a great job simply because we want it to be true, especially if we have been unhealthy or not working toward career goals for an extended period of time.
If you remember, we spoke about the importance and value of reflecting on the previous year. Specifically, looking back at achievements, failures, and new habits formed in 2016.
Now we will explain how we set goals and develop habits. Our intention is for you to pick up some tactics which will allow 2017 to be your best year yet!
Be Brutally Honest When Setting Goals
I love my mom!
And I am sure you do as well. I mean that you also love your mom. Although you can love mine too because she is awesome.
But sometimes I get so focused on other activities and goals that I can forget to dedicate time to her. This is the reason that in my monthly goals I include calling and messaging her a certain amount of times per week.
This doesn’t mean I only do it because it is a goal or because I just want to check it off my list. Many times it happens naturally without even thinking that it is a “task” that I have to do.
Other weeks I can forget. Life happens.
The goal is a reminder. It is there to keep me on track and focused on what really matters for me.
- When was the last time you had a deep and maybe uncomfortable conversation with your significant other?
- When was the last time you had and open and honest conversation with your boss or co-workers?
- When was the last time you sat down with your kids to talk about any problem they have been facing at school?
Sometimes these situations happen naturally. Or life will make you have them. Uncomfortable situations and challenges will arise no matter what.
If you are afraid of those uncomfortable and challenging situations, life will make you face them on terms you don’t like. Then you will have to face them from a position of weakness because you weren’t prepared.
But if you are proactive about these type of situations, you can face them on YOUR terms. You can decide when and how will those situations happen.
Start including these type of goals to your life. For every area of your life.
Then set the weekly or monthly activities and amount of time you will dedicate to achieving those goals. Some months will not go as planned, but you will always have that reminder there. You will be able to readjust every month thanks to these reminders.
Let’s have some real talk.
When was the last time you were completely honest with yourself when it came to your professional and personal life? Seriously, have you recently turned off all distractions and sat to think about your present situation?
We won’t get into the cognitive bias where individuals value their competencies higher than they should, if interested see Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments by Kruger and Dunning. Yet, we should recognize many times we are not completely honest with ourselves and over-value our accomplishments and abilities.
Don’t feel bad. We all do it. We think highly of ourselves and what we have done.
The problem isn’t overestimating our competencies. The issue is when we don’t recognize this overestimation. I know I am getting philosophical. Essentially, we need to identify when we are overvaluing where we are in life.
- Are you spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy?
- Do you spend enough time with family and friends?
- Are you developing as a professional?
- Are you at the place you want to work? If not, are you doing something to get where you want to be?
- Have you started the business, nonprofit, or venture you know you should?
These are not easy questions. You will need to have an uncomfortable conversation with yourself to answer them.
Most people will continue to push off the conversation. Then 5 years down the road they are still unhealthy and at a job they dislike. Even though the questions might be difficult, when you answer honestly you can set goals.
Goal setting is fairly simple when you know where you are starting. Once you answer the tough questions, set daily habits to achieve your desired results.
Easy Steps to Developing Habits
Well, it’s actually not that easy. It is very simple, but not always easy.
How many times have you failed at developing a habit?
Welcome to the club, we have all failed in that department. The key is that some of us don’t give up.
Will you give up?
If your reason for building the habit is not strong enough, you will probably give up. So don’t set empty goals, don’t try to build empty habits.
Set purposeful goals, build meaningful habits. Ask yourself “why?” 3 times, to find the real reason you want to achieve the goal. Be honest with yourself, and answer that questions differently each time. This process will allow you to find the real why.
Another key is to design your environment. For you to be successful, you have to be in an ecosystem of success. It is your responsibility to not only build this ecosystem, but also to be a valuable part of it.
Most people will think it is all about willpower. Yes, willpower plays a part in building habits. But it is a small part.
Willpower is like a muscle and you can strengthen it, but its strength is not infinite. Which is why you have to use that strength efficiently.
You want to read more but you always end up watching TV instead? Then take the TV out of the room, or cancel the cable. It will be easier to make the right choice if you don’t have a chance to make a bad choice.
You want to eat better but you always end up eating unhealthy food? Get rid of all the unhealthy food that is in your house. I guarantee that most of the time you will not drive to the store to buy a chocolate or a soda when you are craving it.
Are these measures extreme? Maybe, so what! How bad do you really want it?
If you think these measures are extreme, then you haven’t found a strong why for your goals yet.
Developing positive habits which lead to your goals is actually rather simple. The problem most people encounter, including myself, is they do not have clear goals.
Once you are honest with yourself on where you are starting, then you can picture where you want to go. Alejandro recently discussed this in his article, Begin with the End in Mind. Think of it very logically.
When you know your starting point and the end point, the rest is just filling in the middle.
You can reverse-engineer your goals, i.e. look at the end and backtrack. Or start from the beginning and list the incremental steps necessary to get to your goal. I prefer to look at the start and add milestones, but I know many people who are great at working from the end and filling in the middle. Do what feels more natural.
Let’s look at an example. I was a personal trainer for 6.5 years so my mind gravitates towards fitness when looking at goals and habits. Imagine someone who wants to lose weight (15-20 lbs), feel healthier, and look better physically. They do not have any desire to be a Crossfit champion or become an Ultrarunner. How do we set daily habits to reach the goal?
It’s simpler than most think.
We have the clear goal: lose 15-20 pounds, (i.e a metric for success) feel healthier, and look better (i.e. both are subjective, yet we all know when we feel and look good).
Now we set smart habits. Please note, I said smart because this person could easily find an exercise and meal plan online that is not a good choice for their goals. They do not need some crazy workout routine and to start eating only grass while gaining energy from the sun.
All they need to do is set some daily habits which will get them to their goals. Habits would include:
- Finding an exercise program they can do 4-5 days a week, 30-45 minutes each session. This could be an online exercise app, fitness class, biking, joining a gym, among others. The key is to do something but not over train.
- Replace empty calories. This person could replace drinking soda with water, replace carb-based snacks with fruits/vegetables, and replace large portion size with more manageable meals.
- Sleep an adequate amount of hours each night.
All the above is not difficult. If they cannot find 30 minutes a day to workout, their life is too busy. Replacing foods is much easier then going on the newest fad diet. And sleep is the most underappreciated habit when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.
Any goal can have a similar process. Determine the starting and end point. Then fill in the gaps with manageable habits. Daily habits compound and have an amazing effect when repeated.
Too many people dive deep into their goal and burnout quickly. You will not achieve your results overnight, which is comforting. Realizing it will take time means you can plan out your days, start small habits, and monitor how you are doing.
As we say frequently, the key is actually starting! Once you begin the path of habits, you will be surprised how quickly your life alters for the better.
Are Your Ready?
Anyone who has met us knows we can be a little intense. Yet, we also have a lot of fun and grow quickly in our personal and professional lives.
Two of the main reasons for our quick growth boil down to honesty and habits. We are honest with ourselves when it comes to setting goals and constantly create positive daily habits. You can quickly find inspiration online, yet it is difficult to find real steps to advancing your life.
As we said, these steps are simple but not easy. It is not easy to admit to yourself you are not where you want to be, have an addiction, are not as committed as you say you are, or are at a job you hate but won't do anything about it. It's not easy to start the habits to remove you from negative situations.
However, the steps are simple. You can turn off your phone, computer, tablet, and remove all distractions. Set a timer for 10 minutes and ask yourself, am I where I want to be in life spiritually, mentally, physically, and professionally.
Don't share your answers with anyone. Just write the answers and throw away the piece of paper. Again this is not easy, but the steps are simple. You are more than capable of sitting for 10 minutes and answering questions. When you know the answers you can begin setting daily habits to achieve your goals.
Yet, you need to answer something very basic, are you ready?
As you read this, you might have thought about some of your friends who either want to start sharing content or you know they should share their amazing journey. Encourage them by liking and sharing this. You may be able to help them.
This article was written by Matt Avery and Alejandro I. Sanoja.