Aligning Big Goals and Daily Habits

bird taking off across pond

How can habits help us soar toward our goals?

With only 8% of resolutions kept , we have reason to be skeptical about goals set around New Year’s. I’ve tended to shun the resolutions as typically approached, focusing on ideas such as “Finding Flow” and “New Year’s Green Lights”. Despite some wariness New Year’s Resolutions as such, I do find this time of year tends to afford good opportunity for pause and reflection (well, after the Christmas presents have been acquired and given!). This year, I’m focusing on the link between big goals and daily habits and practices.

I tend toward setting large goals–at times too many–so the concept of setting simple daily mini-habits intrigued me.  At first I chuckled at Stephen’s description on Tiny Buddha of his first mini-habit–doing one push-up everyday. But I read on and there seemed to be something to it. Setting a goal that is so sure to be achieved begets a sense of momentum. So I’m now nearly a month into my mini-habit of writing at least 50 words every day.

Doing my daily writing mini-habit consistently, early in the day, has created a swirl of positive energy. Though the explicit goal of the habit is simply to write 50 words, I have published significantly more blog posts in the past month (10 on my personal blogs plus a few for work) than I typically would. And getting on a writing roll early in the day tends to spill over into a good flow writing when I get into the office.

One of my New Year’s realizations was that I need to harness the energy created by the habit of regular writing in service of my overall goals for the year and beyond. With the mini-habit only stating I needed to write 50 words on anything, I was creating a somewhat random assortment of content. Now, there is something to be said for serendipity, but I am ready to focus the effort toward my key goals.

One important goal I have is continuing to strive to put digital tools in their proper place. Our Sunday digital Sabbath is a key part of this, so I’ll be taking a break on Sundays from my 50 word habit. So I have 6 days to do my 50 word mini-habit. Half of those I will devote to writing that directly relates to my work at Social Capital Inc. The other three days will be for other personal interests as reflected on this blog, Cooking Chat, and yes, finally getting a book written!

aristotle quoteSo part of my thinking has been around how to more intentionally link positive habits I’ve already established to bigger goals I have. But I’m trying to work in the other direction, too. The process of thinking more about creating habits has me pushing to do so for any important goals. For instance, we have a family priority on managing our budget and saving for a return trip to Legoland. So I’m pushing myself to ask myself every day, “What can I do today to reach our family finance goals?” Finding a simple thing to do, like fixing oatmeal (bulk oatmeal is much cheaper than cold cereal) helps a bit on the bottom line, but more importantly, helps establish a mindset that keeps the goal in mind when making other decisions. I’m trying to keep in mind Aristotle’s observation: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

So what habits and goals are you working on for a successful 2014? I look forward to sharing the quest with you!

About David

I'm a proud Dad and husband living in Woburn, MA, just north of Boston. I've created my Wordpress site as a place to put together and share my many diverse interests. These include my work at Social Capital Inc. (http://socialcapitalinc.org), my passion for good food & wine that I share at Cooking Chat (http://cookingchat.blogspot.com), poetry and photos (often inspired by the beautiful pond we live near), and my exploration of new places and ideas. In addition to those two websites above, here are other places you can find me online: Twitter: @socialcap (related to my work, most active handle), @davidbcrowley (general), @cookingchat @DC_Woburn (of local interest in & around my community, also what I use for FourSquare) Google+: David B. Crowley LindedIn: My profile Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/davidbcrowley Email: davidbcrowley AT gmail.com OK, I think that about covers it for now!
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