Almost every aspect of your life is based on the habits you practice. Some of these come naturally to you, while others require more effort.
Your habits influence most of the actions you take and the thoughts you think.
On a daily basis, they are your go-to tool for maintaining the status quo, managing your growth; and rebounding from setbacks. Yet, you probably operate on autopilot regarding many of your habits – not giving much consideration to how you create them, let alone how one habit supports and complements another habit. Or, not!
But once you have read this post, I hope you’ll never look at habits the same way!
Each habit has many dimensions; I hope you’ll tap into them. I hope you’ll embrace that every habit is in support of a goal. And, I hope you’ll accept the idea that to achieve almost any goal you need to practice more than one habit.
In other words, I hope you’ll adopt the practice of consciously creating a collage of habits.
Understanding the components and anatomy of your habits is what will help you maximize the focus and flow you need to achieve the goal the habit is in support of.
Habits: A Collage
So, let’s say you have a goal to save $12,000 in the next twelve months. You’ll likely need to practice the following habits to make that happen:
- Set aside $1,000 per month
- Avoid tapping into what you’ve saved to date
- Avoid saving less than the target amount for the months ahead
- Track your progress
Listing each habit not only reminds you that it is never just one thing that helps you achieve a goal. But it also helps you tweak your approach more easily when things aren’t progressing or panning out as you envisioned. So if you’re bumping into resistance, don’t change the goal right away – experiment first with changing one of the habits you’re following…
(By the way: Ever notice how most goals require at least three (3) habits?!)
Making a list of your habits is the first step in creating you collage. Next, for each identified habit you need to answer some questions:
Does this habit come naturally to you or require more effort?
Knowing this will help you manage your energy and expectations with regards to being able to consistently practice this habit.
How often do you need to practice this habit?
Daily; weekly; monthly; quarterly
From our example goal, will you set aside $250 if you get paid weekly; $500 if bi-weekly? Or some other configuration? Will you pay more attention to your expenditures throughout the days and month so you can identify leaks that are actually savings opportunities in disguise?
What are the components?
Mental; emotional; physical; spiritual…or some combination of
Avoiding the temptation to dip into your savings (unless it is an emergency) requires a combination of mental, emotional and perhaps even spiritual discipline.
Describe the “loop“* (*this concept is based on the research from MIT researchers)
What’s the cue (or trigger)?
What’s the routine (or behavior of this habit)?
What’s the reward?
Will Fridays or the last day of the month be your cue to track your progress? How will you track – spreadsheet, app, desktop software, or combination? What will you treat yourself to for keeping the momentum?
What if anything do you need to adjust about this habit?
The power of tracking reveals itself when you assess what you’ve tracked! So even if your answer is “nothing,” this is a valuable question to ask. Because it helps you to avoid operating on autopilot, and prompts you to check in to (re)confirm your habits are bringing about the result you want.
Digging deeper into your habits is an oft-overlooked part of the goal-setting process. But since every habit is in support of a goal, it makes total sense to carve out time to create a collage your habits!
When you create your collage, you not only get to identify the total number of habits it takes to achieve a goal, but are also able to identify how many of them are easy vs. hard for you to practice. This insight is powerful, especially if you’re finding yourself struggling to meet your goals.
When you create your collage, I bet you’ll find yourself being even more focused than you are already – courtesy of greater clarity. I also suspect you’ll feel like things just flow more easily – courtesy of more focus. (Another loop in action…)
Yes, creating your collage of habits is an extra step in your goal setting process. But, I believe this moment of reflection is SO worth the effort.
Goals aren’t achieved based on the strength of willpower.
It helps you identify a solution that addresses those pesky goals you’re struggling to reach, and can’t quite figure out why achievement eludes your grasp.
It gives you a productivity and performance edge. For in the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Things do not change; we change.”
The ultimate benefit of creating a collage of your habits is this: it will help you maximize your focus, flow and results! An outcome you can’t get when you operate on autopilot.
So, are you ready to do this? Perfect…I have a worksheet for you that will make doing so quick and easy. You can grab a copy via the link below.