Success may leave clues, but it only comes about when you have solid daily habits. If you want to see better results in your life, make better daily habits to get you there.
I'm obsessed with creating daily habits and here's why:
- My business, which was once just a vision, is thriving. I have amazing readers, podcast listeners and a small army of happy customers.
- My health and fitness continues to stay consistent and strong. This is despite being close to 50, an age where most women complain that their energy drops while their weight starts to creep out of control.
- My level of happiness continues to increase (slowly but surely) despite not having an even remotely perfect life.
How do I continue to make slow but upward progress on each of these areas of my life?
Not by being perfect, not by working 80 hours a week and certainly not by any stroke of luck. I owe all of my success to the daily habits I've created for myself. Without them, I'm not sure where I'd be, but it wouldn't be good. I know that for sure.
How to develop daily habits that support your goals
By developing intentional, small behaviors over time that take you closer to what you want to create in your life. It's really that simple.
Here's the thing, habits are nothing more than behaviors we do so repetitively, so much so, that we don't even realize we're doing them anymore. So why not start with some super-simple, impossible to fail at habits, and grow from there? Here's a few simple guidelines to help you get started:
1. Make progress one day at a time.
Take any task that seems insurmountable. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and give up before you start. I can certainly admit I feel that all. the. time. with blogging, and yet, I've continued to motor on, for over 11 years now!
How have I kept going that long with a single pursuit? It's not because I'm the kind of person who's strong at follow-through. In fact, I'm the opposite. Actually, I once had a business coach tell me that I'm terrible at follow through (ouch!). There's no magic trick here.
I simply do the work that’s in front of me, plan my work for tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, I do that. And the cycle just continues. It's become so much of a habit now, that I can't help but write and share.
2. Chunk down big goals into small action steps
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you're trying to manifest a big goal or a dream, but in reality, everything is figureoutable. When the goal is big and lofty, I recommend breaking them down into small, doable steps.
- Take your enormous task and write down every single thing that has to get done.
- Break the task down to its essence
- When you have a three-page list of to-dos, prioritize them into smaller lists in your daily journal based on what needs to get done first.
3. Use Evernote or Planners to Map Your Goals
A great way to break down your large tasks and plan your week in advance is to organize your smaller to-dos based on the days of the week. In the past, I've used Evernote to create files for each day of the week and on Sunday night, I'd list out my daily to-dos. Over time, I've found that writing things down works better for me, so now I use the Day Designer.
4. Keep your to-do list short and manageable
There’s some argument in the productivity world that to-do lists are the worst thing that you could do from a psychological perspective as they never end. I think this can be true if we overestimate what needs to get done in a day. Sometimes I only put three things on my to-do list, then if I’m done that by 10 am, I head over to tomorrow’s list and start crushing that too. When I’m able to get ahead of my work, I feel really good about myself.
However, I've also had seasons of life (like, right now), where my to-do list stresses me out because it's constant and never-ending. When I let this get out of control, it really amps up my anxiety - something I actively try to manage, so I have to remind myself that life is a marathon and I can only do so much in a day.
5. Make sure your goals are meaningful to you (this is not a captain obvious throwaway comment)
The key thing to changing your life and your daily habits is to choose things that are important to you. If your health is what you need to focus on, you need to find a way to make meal prep, fitness and sleep the foundation of your life, no matter what. If it's your career or family, then that's what needs to go first. The trick is that you can only successfully prioritize a few things at once.
The reality is that very often we don't achieve our goals because we don't really want them badly enough. This happens when we set goals based on what we think others want for us rather than what we truly want for ourselves. Take time to be honest with yourself. Do you really want this badly enough to do what it takes to achieve your goal?
Do you have to love what you're doing to make it a habit?
I get this question a lot. I think enjoying what you're doing is clearly going to make your purists easier to stick with. But the reality is, no matter what you want out of life, there's going to be challenges and crappy moments along the way. If it were easy, you'd already be where you want to go, right?
For example, I've figured out how to workout consistently 5 to 6 days a week, but that has nothing to do with loving exercise. Trust me, I'd much rather park my butt on the couch and watch Netflix than work up a sweat, but there's a bigger picture of health and fitness that's really important to me.
TLDR - you have to have a bigger vision you're focused on so that you can get past the crappy parts of working on your goals. However, I also recommend that you ask yourself on the regular - how can I make this journey and process towards my goal easier and more enjoyable? It has been a game-changer for me.
So what’s on your to-do list? Any big hairy goals for 2020?
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, low carb recipes, quick home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.