Habits > Goals

I mentioned last week how the book Atomic Habits has altered the way I approach setting goals - specifically on how I now focus more heavily on maintaining habits that help support those goals.  (I even touched on it last year about the 1% better idea.)

This really has been a paradigm shift for me. As someone who used to print out, laminate, and hang a list of annual goals in the shower for daily review, I used to be very outcome-driven. And in some areas of life, I still am.

However in most areas, I now focus almost exclusively on habits.

Another way of framing it is a focus on controllable inputs vs uncontrollable outcomes. Sometimes things are just beyond our control (Covid-19, anyone?).

As one example, I typically read between 10-15 books over a given calendar year. It’s a written goal ever since I started writing my goals out. This year I decided to shift to a habit of reading 20 minutes a day. Now, with 4ish months remaining in the year, I’ve read 22 books and counting. 

This isn’t a magic pill - as it still requires discipline - but the paradigm shift is profound, and the results are real. 

And rather than getting discouraged with something outside of our control hampers the outcome goal, we instead pull a zen-like shift and focus on the fully controllable input habit. 

Instead of a goal of running 500 miles a year, make a habit of running 3 days a week.

Instead of a goal of building your net worth by XXX, make a weekly habit of saving investing, YY. 

Instead of a goal of enhancing your relationship with a family member, make a habit of asking good questions. 

Instead of a goal of losing XX pounds, make a daily habit of tracking your daily calories. 

Instead of a goal of increasing quarterly sales X%, make a daily habit of sales activity. 

Interesting Resources

Cullen Roche
"Learn to be a skeptical optimist and avoid being a cynical pessimist."

Stay In Your Lane
2 min read | Humble Dollar
Yes. I love seeing the idea of deemphasizing peer comparisons and benchmarking making waves in the mainstream. I especially appreciated this line: Playing to someone else’s scoreboard is easy, which is why a lot of people do it. The harder thing—playing our own game—begins when we turn our focus and energy toward what we’re capable of and how we can improve ourselves.

How Much Money is Enough? 
5 min read | A Wealth of Common Sense 
In case my series on Enough wasn't - umm, well - enough, Ben Carlson does a great job articulating the idea in this post, using the example of McDonald's as a case study (which was super fascinating). I secretly pretended that Ben read my own series as an idea for this post. 
Curious for your thoughts: what do you find personally more effective - habits or goals? I'm not sure it's an exclusively binary choice. 

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