As we end this year and start a new one, I knew the way I could be of most use to you is to tell you what I’ve learned about habits. Habits – which are the un-sexy, un-scintillating backbone of their most illustrious comrade: goals.
If you set goals in 2015 you didn’t reach, it’s most likely because you didn’t set the habits to reach them. Habits are the backbone of goals.
Many of you know the word in sanskrit for intentional repetition: abhyasa. Abhyasa is made famous in the Yoga Sutra about the path of yoga being about practice with non-attachment to the results. (abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah 1.12).
The problem is for most of us repetition plus non-attachment sounds a lot like drudgery. And who wants to do something repeatedly that is like drudgery. Not me. Yet, whatever habits we have are the habits we’re steeping our cells in. Yes – our habits are the tea we steep our cells in.
So, as we look forward, which habits do you want to steep yourself in?
To find out, first you need to get clear on a goal. What do you want for yourself in 2016? Just name one goal. Write it down. STOP. Seriously, stop. Write down one little or huge goal you have for yourself.
My goal is to stick to a plan. You see, I’m notorious for running Yogahealer.com from a flow state instead of from a plan. I have a lot to do, and I flow through my tasks. I take on new projects on the fly. This works well enough, to a point. Yet, I have a goal in 2016 to stick to a work plan. No projects on the fly this year. No stressing out my team with new spontaneous deadlines. Just stick to the plan, Cate, that is the goal.
OK – now I know my goal.
And, now you know your goal.
The next part is easy: break your goal into 3 small habits. The tiniest habits are often referred to as micro-habits. The less ambitious you feel, or the most past failures you have had in reaching this very same goal in the past, the more micro the habit you need. I know – that doesn’t make sense to our very ambitious minds. But, it does make sense to the part of us who understood the message in the fable, “The Turtle and the Hare.” Do you follow? Slow and steady wins the race here. The race, you see, is more like a tea you are steeping yourself in over the longevity of your life itself.
The 3 small habits you break your goal into do not need to be all-inclusive of guaranteeing you will hit your goal. Your only requirements for these habits are that they are:
Get clear. Write down 3 micro-habits that will set you on the road towards your goal. Do it now. It just takes a sec. It makes your brain work. STOP. Seriously, stop. Write down daily 3 micro-habits that will set you on the road towards your goal. They don’t have to be life-altering. Just 3 habits that are baby steps in the right direction.
I assume you did it. Good job. Now you know what you want. Notice how you engaged your desire? Your desire is going to be key here. Look over the 3 habits you want.
For example, 3 habits that would help me reach my goal are:
OK – now I know 3 habits that would help me reach my goal.
And, now you know 3 habits that will help you reach your goal.
But, 3 is too many. You’ll easily get overwhelmed trying to adopt three new habits. When I look at my little list of three, they look so do-able. I’m even already doing all of them some of the time. And yet. And yet, we are creatures of habit. And my momentum does not go towards planning. It goes to diving right into getting things done. For me to actually get steeped in these three habits, I need to cross 2 out and circle one. Yup. And the same is true for you.
Now, circle the one that you want to do the most. Yup, that is right. You can even let your inner rebel cross out the other two on the list. Your list should now look like this:
Now, you’re down to one habit. Read it a few times. Does it pass the habit test? Is your one new little habit:
If not, take a minute and tweak it. It’ll make all the difference in you reaching your goal.
Seriously. Stop right now and schedule your habit. I use a google calendar, so I’m stopping writing and adding this into my calendar Mon-Fri. I added an image so you can see it below- the new habit is called Tweak Daily Plan. If you use a paper calendar, you get to practice the art of repetition by writing it in, again and again and again.
You’ve identified a goal. You’ve identified a do-able habit to help you get there. You’ve even added it to your schedule. You are amazing.
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