Goals and Good Habits

by on January 18, 2011

Ever since he became early America’s version of a rock star, Ben Franklin’s thirteen Virtues and their corresponding Habits have become legendary, and in crafting the schedule for my first 90 day plan, I decided I could tweak the grand gentleman’s methodology to fit my own goals.

Basically, Ben believed that it takes 21 days to create a habit and that any goal can be achieved if the Steps required to reach that goal become a firmly ingrained Habit.

  • You want to lose weight? Daily exercise must become a Habit.
  • Want to stop smoking? Find a hobby that occupies your hands and make doing that a habit.
  • Declutter your house? A habit of 15 minutes a day will have the place tidy in no time.
  • Want to grow your home business? It must become a Habit to do something constructive every single day.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of trying to create a habit for each of my goals is enough to make my eyes cross.

With goals that run the gamut from losing 25lbs to learning to manage my own investments, from cutting out wheat to creating a global online empire, the thought of tackling them all at once is just way too overwhelming. I know myself well enough to know that I would end up frazzled, crabby and my family would be begging me to return to the ‘old ways’.

So here’s what I’ve done :-

  1. Made a list of all my goals for the year, subdivided into Self, Business and Family.
  2. Noted what Habits would need to be in place for those goals to be realized.
  3. Chose two Habits that would have the Biggest Impact right now.
  4. Commit to do Only those two Habits for a full month.
  5. Add another two habits the following month, and so on.

The list of goals was easy ~ after all, it’s January. However, I’m now much more focused on the Intentions behind those Goals and the Feelings that achieving them will bring about and whatever new Habit I set needed to cater to this.

Creating a Habit (or several) for each goal was relatively easy. I want to lose 25lbs so I need to:-

  • walk 30 mins per day,
  • go back to yoga,
  • cut down on wheat and dairy,
  • and stop eating after dinner.

(On previous occasions, I’ve tried doing ALL of those at once and not only did I nearly killed myself in the process but I always ended up exactly where I was before, feeling frustrated and disappointed in my “lack of willpower”!)

But Here’s the Key! Here’s the secret to the success of this method ~

focus on the one Habit that will have the greatest impact Now.

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” ~ Brian Tracy

For me, “Not Eating After Dinner” was a no brainer since I tend to graze mindlessly while I’m blog-surfing or watching football and can put away more than half of my daily calorie allowance in one bag of chips! I knew that that habit alone would not only speed me toward my weight-loss goal, but give me that Feeling of being In Control that my usually distracted soul so desperately craves.

And my newly adopted Business-Habit (DO NOT open Facebook or Skype until one piece of content has been written) has already had a  Huge impact on my productivity. The Intention here is much the same ~ to feel Powerful and In Control, rather than buffeted by the randomness of the day’s demands and other people’s expectations.

By the end of January, I believe that these two new habits will be so firmly entrenched that they’ve become second nature. Then I will revisit my goals and choose two more habits to focus on and add them to the previous ones.

Incremental Progress. Baby steps. No Overwhelm. By the end of the year I’ll have 12 Brand New Habits that

“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” ~Samuel Johnson

Whatever your goals are, dear heart,  there is almost always a fairly obvious Action that, if done regularly, would propel you toward that goal.

That’s really all a habit is ~ action taken regularly ~ and I bet that if I asked you, you could probably tell me what you should be doing to get where you want to be.

The trouble is we try to do it all at once and get so swamped  that we end up giving up on everything and back where we started.

Just focusing on One Habit At A Time, for a period of at least 21 days (a month is easier to track) creates a momentum of success.

Even my favorite author agrees with me …

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence,

without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”
~ Charles Dickens

So dahlings, does this make sense to you?

Does this little ‘life hack’ make that goal list seem a bit less daunting? I do hope so.

Can you think of ONE habit that, if you started it today, would make a vast difference in your success?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, and do remember that if you found this useful, your friends might too, and I’d love you to share it with the Tweet or Facebook buttons below.

Bliss-ings, scrumptious ones, and here’s to good Habits and a wildly successful 2011.

The Goddess known as Jacqui





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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole Rushin January 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I had to also back away from Facebook this year. It has helped me immensely. I just said if I could spend as much time on my blog and my list building as I do on Facebook I could get something done. It has been great. I like the line about successful people having good habits. Great stuff Goddess. Enjoying your posts!
Nicole Rushin´s last blog post ..The Story of the Blue Willow China

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Jacqueline Gates January 19, 2011 at 11:08 am

It’s interesting, Nicole, that Kimberly Castleberry mentioned once to me that I’m so interactive on FB that I’m in fact running two blogs. It certainly feels like it! But I find my FB diet to be an absolute necessity if I’m going to get anything truly productive done (ie measurable and goal-directed), I HAVE to do it before FB sucks me into it’s social vortex.

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Janette Stoll January 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Hi Jacqueline,

Great post on how to change your habits. I’ve also read it takes at least 6-12 months for a new habit to become permanent. Repetition is key and you nailed it with changing 1 or 2 habits at a time. It’s amazing how a minor change can have such a big impact. I used to hate getting up before 7 but now I’m so used to it that it’s hard to sleep past 7 :). It was hard the first week to make the change.

Janette Stoll
http://www.marketingdirectsales.com

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Jacqueline Gates January 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

Ugh, the first week or so is definitely the Worst, Janette. But it does get easier and after 21 days I’ve found whatever you’re working on becomes fairly normal. And you’re right, after 6 months, it’s become so much a part of you that you wonder how you ever did anything different!

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Val Wilcox @ Empower Your Life January 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Jacqui,
What great tips to follow. You’re so right about taking on too many changes at once. It’s a recipe for slip ups and frustrations. You’ve definitely have the right idea to break these down into smaller, manageable pieces. Focus on that and add as you go – great!

Val 🙂
Val Wilcox @ Empower Your Life´s last blog post ..Celebrate YOU!

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Jacqueline Gates January 19, 2011 at 11:03 am

‘Tis the voice of experience, goddess Val! And way too many years spent in frustration because I tried to do everything at once. Finally learned the lesson, so hopefully the Universe will stop hitting me on the head with it lol!

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Teresa Ivory January 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

My first new habit is to read this post every day for a month! What a gem you have here! It never ceases to amaze me how someone can take the same old information (Ben Franklin’s) and make it fresh with their own perspective and way of doing things. Thanks, Jacqui!
Teresa Ivory´s last blog post ..Find the Missing Insight Game

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Jacqueline Gates January 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

What’s really cool, Teresa, is how someone from the 1800’s can be so relevant today. Wouldn’t it be nice if what WE blog about now, is still being read and shared 200 years from now?

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Kevin DeRoo January 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Hey Jacqueline,

Loved your article. What a great way to describe your Actions! Make them a habit! Developing one habit at a time each month building on the last is a fantastic way to reach your goals. Loved the quotes as well!

Thanks for sharing Jacqueline.

Kevin.
Kevin DeRoo´s last blog post ..The Business of the 21st Century!

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Jacqueline Gates January 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

And thanks for visiting, Kevin. So many quotes out there to choose from … people have been talking about the importance of habits since Marcus Aurelius!

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Jason@Make Beats January 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

Jacqueline – It’s definitely hard to create a habit for each and every single goal you have for yourself. Great advice when you mentioned to focus on the one Habit that will have the greatest impact right now.

Baby steps are definitely necessary when you’re trying to develop new habits. However, this list does make it a much less daunting task. Thanks for sharing your list and how you’re going to go about achieving your goals this year.
Jason@Make Beats´s last blog post ..How To Get Signed With Massive Music Sales

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Jacqueline Gates January 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

Glad you liked it, Jason. This method is certainly working for me … January 19th and no overwhelm LOL!

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Melissa McCloud January 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm

hello dear goddess! i even feel like the 80/20 rule is overwhelming (do the 20% of the activities that have the most impact on achieving the goal…) so i love how you (and Ben) have simplified it even more: do just ONE THING. easy, do-able, thank you!

my goals for social media have got to fit into my lifestyle, and with blogging, twitter, facebook, tribesyoutubedigghsbn…ahhh! i really am unfocused in this area. this is one of my top business goals and i appreciate the sage advice! i’ve decided to focus on (drumroll) video! thank you jacqui! 🙂
Melissa McCloud´s last blog post ..The Man-Child You Love To Hate

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Kellie Hosaka @network marketing home business training January 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Aloha Goddess Jacqui,

Ah, the change of habits…yes this can be a stubborn one. As Jim Rohn would say “what’s easy to do is easy not to do”. It’s a great idea to do it one or two at a time, over and over again, then it becomes a habit and moves into your subconscious mind. It becomes easy because you do it automatically. Then you can move on to the next new habit.

Very cool Goddess! You got it!!

Much love,
Kellie 🙂

P.S. Missed you today.
Kellie Hosaka @network marketing home business training´s last blog post ..2011- Your Best Year Ever – Design Your Plan To Ensure Success

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Cherrie Bautista@Young And Fabulous January 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I’m the same way, I get overwhelmed if I take on too many things at once and end up not accomplishing anything at all. That’s why I focus on one major goal a year, and develop habits around it. I’ve been focusing on blogging, work, and family for several years. Last year, I made a commitment to focus on taking care of myself. And I’m proud to say that I’ve been consistently working out for six days a week doing cardio/dance, strength and yoga. Suffice it to say that working out became a habit for me.

This year, my focus is to eat more whole foods and less processed foods for me and my family. It’s not enough that I’ve converted our lifestyle to consuming organic and all-natural several years ago. This year I want to bring us closer to food’s natural state.

I’m also back to blogging. What I found out from being on a short break last year is that, with all the new passions I’ve been spending time on, comes learning. And all this time I was missing writing and sharing what I’ve been learning. So here I am, back to writing about my passions!

Thank you for such a valuable and informative post, Goddess!
Cherrie Bautista@Young And Fabulous´s last blog post ..Heart Intelligence Vs Mind Intelligence

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Lori Robertson January 21, 2011 at 7:18 am

Jacqueline,

This was an awesome post, this is really going to help me focus on reaching my goals for each month, I think this is a great way to do that. I am going to focus on one at a time and see what type of progress I have at each month. Thanks so much for this tip.

Lori

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Steven Dean January 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Jacqueline

Great intro to the opening of your blog. Very interesting. It made me smile to know you have a charming personality. I like these goal forming habits. I always say to do a little and do some more and eventually it won’t seem or feel so much as a chore, but and everyday practice. You highlighted a bunch of good points to take from this article. Appreciate you sharing this. Look forward to reading a few more of your articles. Take care

Steven Dean
Steven Dean´s last blog post ..Alexa Ranking Newbie Update

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Karin January 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

I most definitely agree with you that turning things into a habit makes it much easier to stick with it. So much so, that you don’t even realize anymore that you have changed. I remember some of the rules that I had to obey as a kid. They were so burned into my brain that I did not even realize that I was still doing it long after I had left the house to go to college. Funny isn’t it. But it shows that it really does work.
Karin´s last blog post ..7 Facebook promotion strategies

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Holly January 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Love your post Goddess!! I have to be more organized and have decided that this year I will focus on a couple of things rather than trying to “fix” it all!! When one takes on too much, too much doesn’t get done, at least for me! Good bye overwhelm and hello one habit at a time.. and one month does make it easier than the 21 days… however I would love a habit to be “cemented in” after 21 days!!
Holly´s last blog post ..Blog Mastery Award

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Mike Griffin@law of attraction January 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Very well put, you can’t do it all at once. I also like the notion that Ben Franklin was early Americas equivalent of a rockstar, how insightful.

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shalom @ dui lawyer February 5, 2011 at 4:00 am

Goals are things we wanted to achieve in a given period of time. It requires an everyday struggle to achieve that goal. Reaching our goals is not that easy and that motivation and good habits is what we should work for everyday. Success wouldn’t come in just a tick of a clock or by chance, we work for it and in working good habits is really very important.
shalom @ dui lawyer´s last blog post ..ROR Sitemap for http-wwwcaliforniaduihelpcom-

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Nicole@Life Coaching Courses February 9, 2011 at 2:43 am

Anything you try to change about yourself will be hard at first. You just have to stay focused and push forward. Before you know it the new habit is in place and you will look back with a lot of satisfaction of your accomplishment.
Nicole@Life Coaching Courses´s last blog post ..Depression Self Help Begins With Self

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Wisconsin Mommy February 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I just heard today that 21 days is the magic number to creating a new habit. I see someone before me quotes 6-12 months. I wonder if there is any actual scientific study showing how long it takes for something to become a habit?
Wisconsin Mommy´s last blog post ..Save Money this Valentines Day

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Jacqueline Gates February 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm

As far as I know, it was Maxwell Maltz who, after studying amputees, said it takes 21 days to adapt to major life change but you’re right, it can alternate between 21 and 28 days. In my own experience, the 30 day plan works like a charm and I find it easier to log/track to go from the 1st of the month when making a new habit to stick.
And of course, if you keep going for 6 to 12 months it’s going to be set in stone!

(I found this blog post that talks about it in a bit more detail)

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Anne J Goddard March 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Dear Goddess,

I should have read this some months back. Great post! Thank you for sharing.

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Joel@hgh March 28, 2011 at 1:33 am

Nice read. Goals are directly related to habits. If one have a goal but don’t work upon it just because of their wrong habits, that can result it big failure.

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Melody April 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Hello My goddess friend!
Somehow I missed this post in all the cold of the New Year!
Anyway I do so love what you said “Can you think of ONE habit that, if you started it today, would make a vast difference in your success?” YES!!!
If I went to bed at night and allowed my mind to dwell on the Word of God so I could sleep. If I turned the lights out earlier and did some yoga before going to sleep. You see I was making some headway in the Fall and then I got sick and once I got well, I started back into the bad habit of getting to bed consistently at midnight of after. A very BAD thing to do when you have to work and think. Not to mention take care of my kindergarten aged son!LOL
Now that the pieces of the puzzle have fallen more into place and I know what to do and what I need to do, to help my business succeed, I need to practice shutting it down earlier and allowing my body to get the rest it needs.
Thanks Jacqi! For inspiring us once again!
Mel

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Mark Testa@southern california list on MLS November 11, 2011 at 2:40 am

The quotes that you have here are so inspiring. We do need to be conscious of our habits. We do form a habit everyday and we might not know that we’re forming the wrong one. Be conscious of the right habits, then do it. That’s the key. Wow. Thanks for this inspiring post.

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