7 Things You Can Learn About Habits and Goals

I believe you learn the most during times when you are tested. Trial by fire can definitely inspire new habits and goals that less “adventurous” times may not. Here are mine:

my weight loss

1. Support your goal with a significant purpose. I recently lost 15 lbs. in three months – a lot for short little me. Certainly looking and feeling better were good reasons to reduced the carbs and sugar in my diet and increase vegetables. But the bigger purpose was wanting to avoid diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Put a compelling “why” behind your goal and it will keep you on track.

2. Create milestones. I wanted to reach 5 lb. mini-goals before a certain holiday. Rather than keep it open-ended (I’ll get there when I get there), I had smaller, achievable goals to shoot for. Then I’d set my sights on 5 more pounds before the next holiday. Somehow, tying it to the date of a holiday was more definitive and motivating.

3. Focus on things you CAN control. Losing our home and everything we owned in the wildfire was totally out of my control. However, some things I did have control over: being organized to get through the insurance claim, how the new house would be built, the work/activities I’d take on during that year, the attitude I’d choose and what kind of example I’d be for my children during difficult times. Researchers have found that intrinsic motivation – autonomy, mastery and purpose – lead to better results. (Watch this TED talk by Dan Pink on motivation)

4. Establish a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). I listed the things I do on a regular basis that don’t generate direct results. Busy-work, administrivia and social media are a few. Now, I dedicate a smaller percentage of my time/energy (say 5-10%) to those things and then I stop. Just like Twitter limits a post to 140 characters, limiting the resources devoted to low priority tasks by default gives me more energy to focus on bigger goals.

5. Decide to make each interaction/experience a positive one. Set the intention up front to get a positive outcome. I use two methods: 1. I ask myself “How do you want this to end?” That clarifies the results I want to achieve. 2. Then I imagine what would it be like if this was the last time I’d see this person, due to illness, death, etc. It helps me appreciate the time I have with people since we may not get a “do over”.

6. Try to be useful. The book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer, may be written for business, but I’ve found the concept very useful (ha!) in my personal life too. Use information and helpfulness in relationships at home, work and in the community to create a more positive, productive interaction and environment.

7. Use the magic of compounding. Supposedly, Albert Einstein called this the 8th wonder of the world. A small “investment” generates earnings which, reinvested, allows interest to build upon interest. The sooner you start, the more time this concept has to work and the bigger the payoff. Momentum builds. Habits form.

Question: Have any of these ideas already worked for you? Any others? Please share in the comments section.