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Habit Setting in the Context of Achieving Goals

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

Establishing habits that create behaviors necessary in achieving goals is integral to being successful in meeting those goals. It’s a point of fact that successful people set goals and then achieve them. Just the act of setting a goal doesn’t mean you are going to achieve that goal. What sets those who achieve their goals apart from those who don’t is they are intentional in developing a plan to reach their objective and then acting on it.

Your plan is the roadmap to reach the goal. And, most importantly, the plan includes developing habits that enable the achievement of the goals. At Woodland Strategies, we provide practical solutions to assist you in meeting goals and being successful in growing your organization. In this article, we discuss the interrelationship between setting habits and successfully meeting goals, as well as how to establish habits that lead to achieving your goals.

How Are Goals and Habits Connected?

Setting goals is a process where you create milestones for yourself. A goal can be a new objective for your business, a new skill, or a task you want to accomplish. For example, a goal for a business can be reaching a certain amount of sales for the year. A personal goal could be running a half-marathon or lowering your cholesterol numbers.

Most successful people know what their goals are and think about them each day. Writing down your goals and posting them where you can see them keeps them at the top of your mind.

As a part of the process of setting the goal, you also build a strategy for keeping the goal in sight. The path for getting to the end goal is comprised of smaller tasks you perform routinely becoming habits. Goals give you direction and end goal while developing effective habits provide the way you get there. In other words, the habits support the goal.

Brian Tracy, who has made a career as a motivational speaker and self-development author, says that “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” This means that success comes from what we do on a daily basis. Forming habits that you practice each day is the stepping stone to reaching your goals.

Setting Habits

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

When you form good habits that become your playbook to reaching goals, you have a great probability to achieve those goals. But, it isn’t always easy to stay motivated. Habits are established through routines and repetition that support the goal. Once you have set a habit, it becomes second nature and automatic; in other words, a habit is something that is instilled so that you don’t even have to think about it.

The Power of Habit

An established habit brings about change that becomes part of your life. Steven R. Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” rephrased a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

This means our thoughts become actions that, when repeated, become habits. Our habits are the foundation stones of our success. When you have aligned the habit with a goal, you can easily reach the goal and even exceed it. Habits are actually incremental steps you take in reaching the goal. Without developing a good habit that supports the goal, you are working with a goal that is in the future but with no solid routine that gets you there.

Steps to Alignment

It’s important to be clear about your goals first. Then, deconstruct those goals into smaller intentional steps that are required for meeting those objectives. Answer questions such as:

  • What are my goals for this year? Five years from now? This month?
  • What actions do I need to do routinely (habits) that will achieve these goals?
  • How do my current habits align with or support these goals?
  • What do I need to change?

After this assessment, work on a list of routine actions (habits) that will work with your goals. This will be your roadmap for creating the habits that will lead to achieving the goals.

Keep these in mind every day. On a daily basis, it is easy to forget what you are pursuing long-term. Life can get in the way. Without constant reminders, you are more likely to be unsuccessful in accomplishing the primary objectives.

Creating a Habit that Aligns with a Goal

Most everyone has heard that it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit. This isn’t necessarily true because it really depends on the habit and the person. One individual may be able to establish a habit in 15 days while another may take 30 days. Lally (2012), has found that developing a new habit actually takes an average of 66 days. Regardless of the time needed, the bottom line is choosing to do it on a daily basis.

How can you develop habits that will align with your goals? Here are several tips.

Tip #1: Write It Down
Write your goals down. This keeps them in a form that you can refer to on a routine basis.

Tip #2: Come Up With Actionable Steps
It’s critically important to break down the goal and think about the actionable steps that will support meeting the goal. For example, if you want to read and finish a 200-page book in a month, you need to decide how many pages you can commit to reading each day. To think about reading ten pages each day is easier to think about than the total of 200 pages in 30 days.

Tip #3: Make a Schedule
Make a schedule to practice the behavior that you want to build into a habit. For example, if your goal is to exercise 4 days a week, create a schedule for your day where you can commit to exercising. If your goal is to make X number of sales calls each day, block out time and put it on your calendar for getting those calls made. Don’t let anything get in the way of it. Look at the time as sacred with no interruptions.

Tip #4: Start Small
Set “micro habits” that consist of incremental adjustments that ultimately move you closer to achieving a goal. These are small, simple actions you can take on a daily basis that help you achieve big results. You start small while keeping the big picture in mind.

Tip #5: Create a Routine
Take those micro habits and create a daily routine that adds up to meeting your goal.

Let’s say that your goal is to get more sales at work for the month and you have worked out a specific amount of either individual sales or dollar amount in sales. Breaking that goal down into actionable steps each day is how you will meet the goal. Is it a certain number of sales calls you need to make each day? Focus on the daily activity and make that happen.

Eventually, this will lead to achieving the goal. But, you must perform the calls each day so that it becomes routine, resulting in a habit over time.

Tip #6: Prepare for Obstacles

After a few days of sticking to the new habit, you may find that you are slipping backwards in neglecting the steps in the routine. Change is not easy. So, analyze the things that can be obstacles in making continuous progress and think of ways to eliminate them. For example, maybe your goal is to have 30 minutes every night alone to meditate, write, read, or whatever it is to get to your goal and your family doesn’t make it easy for you to have that time. Let them know that you need to be undisturbed during this time and treat it like an appointment!

Schedule a Strategic Marketing Consultation with Woodland Strategies Today

If you need some help in establishing goals and setting habits in alignment, we would like to assist you in your endeavors. Are you struggling with coming up with specific goals? Are you having problems setting goals that support your goals? Woodland Strategies can help you with strategies and actions that lead to your success. We can give you the guidance you need to have a successful 2023.

Our strategic planning agency works with businesses and organizations around Minneapolis to help them develop a roadmap to meeting goals and achieve success. Please contact us by filling out our contact form or giving us a call today at 952-303-4594.

Covey, S., 1989. The seven habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon and Schuster. Gardner, B., Lally, P, and Wardle, J., December 2012. Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice,” British Journal of General Practice Vol. 62, Issue 605,

This article or any other promotional material(s) from Woodland Strategies, Inc. is in no way intended to be a comprehensive plan.

Please note all markets, circumstances, and results vary. Any strategic plan or marketing initiatives must follow all State and Federal laws and regulations, accordingly.

Please contact us directly for a complete assessment and plan for your individual organizational needs.

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This is a question we are regularly asked at Woodland Strategies. Typically, a full strategic planning process can take up to six to eight months, depending on how in-depth the organizational planning team wants to take things.Your messaging – your values, mission and vision statements – can, and should, last between eight and twelve weeks. This is really the most fundamental part of your plan. It should never be rushed.

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