How to set habits that support your goals

daily rituals growth mindset Feb 13, 2023
Chelsea Pottenger writing goals

Your habits, the tiny choices you make each day are responsible for almost 40% of our daily actions, according to researchers at Duke University. It's these habits, both deliberate and unconscious, that create the very fabric of your life, your health, your success, and even the people we surround ourselves with. While other factors are at play, it's our habits that hold significant sway in determining where we stand today, and where we're headed in the future.

The silver lining, it’s never too late to change your habits. All it takes is discipline. Habits form through repetition, like meditating at the same time, in the same place, every single day. On average, it takes 66 days to form long term habits. This is when the brain has rewired and those new behaviours are literally etched into our neural pathways, making them second nature to the way you live. And this one habit, such as meditation, can ultimately transform your life. 

When it comes to goal setting, many people can start the year ambitiously, only to find their habits are what hold them back. If your goal is to meditate for 10 minutes every morning when you wake up, however you have a habit of snoozing your alarm, you’re going to need to be disciplined in order to break this habit and form a new one to achieve your goal. 

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits has structured habits into four stages. Understanding each stage will help you gain clarity in the habits you need to break and form in order for you to achieve your 2023 goals. 

Stage 1: Cue 

The first stage is cue. The cue is what triggers your brain to initiate a behaviour. For example, a morning meditation habit. Your cue could be 6am, right after you’ve had a glass of water. 

Stage 2: Craving 

Your craving is the motivational force behind the behaviour. You need a strong intrinsic ‘why’ in order to crave making the change. One of the reasons people find quitting smoking so difficult is because of the feeling the cigarette provides. This is the craving. 

If your goal is to meditate every morning at 6am, what is it that you’re craving? 

Is it to feel calmer? More focused? Or more in control of your day? Is it to feel more content and present? Work out what your individual craving and reasoning for achieving your goal is. 

Stage 3: Response

The response is all how well you executed the actual habit eg. When completing your morning meditation, if you started the meditation, however, you checked your phone 5 minutes in, your response will most likely be dissatisfied, making you less likely to continue the habit the next day. Your response encourages your belief. 

Stage 4: Reward 

Finally, the reward. For example, if you felt relaxed or at peace after the meditation, then savour that moment and feeling. This will associate the feel good response with the habit of meditating. 

Whatever your goals are for 2023, work out the habits you need to form in order to achieve them. When you form healthy, long term habits, your goals become far easier to achieve, ultimately transforming your life. 

Learn more about the power of effective goal-setting with keynote speaker Chelsea Pottenger and her virtual workshop: Goal Setting & Visualisation