How to focus on habits not results

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Or, Four Focused Ways to Build Habits

So much goal setting advice out there focuses on achieving certain outcomes. We’re supposed to set our eyes on a particular result we want to reach and work until we get there.

Maybe – maybe – this works with projects, but very little of our lives at home are project-based. Most of our time is spent in the day-in, day-out routines that build our home and family.

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SO038: Habits, Not Results

What will bring lasting traction?

It’s our habits – those small daily patterns that keep life rolling, not only for us, but for our entire family.

When we focus on those little things we do daily, we will build gradual, incremental change that will provide lasting momentum and real progress.

Focus on your habits, not the results you want. When we focus on those little things we do daily, we will build gradual, incremental change that will provide lasting momentum and real progress.

Focus on habits by tracking your habits.

When we can see momentum building with a checklist or calendar of some sort, it encourages us to keep up the streak or build it up and not let it go. Keeping track helps us keep the new habit front of mind and important.

You might use an app or a colored dot on your calendar or a mark in your bullet journal – how you track isn’t so important as finding some way to keep yourself reminded of the habit you are working on.

Focus on habits by building habits gradually.

When you create a total life makeover on paper, even if its all habits you’re changing, you are trying to create a result, not work on habits.

Instead, choose a single habit or a trio of related habits (at most) to work on for a whole month or a six-week interval. At first it might seem like slow progress, but over time the tiny drops will build up and you’ll see real progress rather than a bunch of booming and busting.

Focus on habits by tying habits to anchors in your day.

How do we remember our habits at the right time? Tie them to habits you already have.

“After dinner, I will sweep the floor.”

“After lunch, I will move the laundry to the dryer.”

“After I use the bathroom, I will do 15 jumping jacks or kettle bell swings.”

When you tie a habit to something that will definitely happen in the day, you get an automatic reminder. This structure builds your habits faster and weaves them into the fabric of your day instead of making them toppings you’re trying to sprinkle on top.

Focus on habits by giving your habits nicknames.

A friend recently told me she’s been telling herself that “a load a day keeps the mountain away” when she begins her laundry routine.

Creating little mottos, sayings, or habit nicknames attaches us to our habits. Instead of being this strange new behavior we’re adding in, it’s a game or a new little pet we’re adopting. Naming is powerful, and we can harness that power even for such mundane habits as laundry.

What habits are you trying to build into your life right now?

Don't just start a habit, build it with the three necessary building blocks

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