Are your habits killing your goals?

Why habit measurement is more important than SMART Goals

Do you have a goal that hangs about, refusing to budge no matter how many good intentions you throw towards it?

You know those goals… The ones you imagine would be nice to achieve, life changing or even critical to your ongoing life. These are the goals that seem to have a merry-go-round effect. They keep swinging around into your consciousness (maybe even on an hourly basis) each time with a sillier look and a passionate wave “Hi, I’m still here, are you paying attention?

It’s as if these slippery suckers were designed to point and laugh at our human foibles as they slide between our fingertips with great ease.

These slippery goals are usually the big ticket items such as losing weight, giving up something, reducing spending, working less… These goals are usually the more personal ones as opposed to the work ones but not always the case.

A coach would tell you that it’s the way in which you phrase the goal that’s most important. A goal should accompany the way one is motivated — away from or towards. In my case towards is more motivating;

Lose weight becomes get fit — Save money becomes annual holiday — complete my book becomes write daily

And of course the goal should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely)

I will lose 500g per week over the following 12 weeks.

I will save $50 per fortnight throughout the year.

I will write one chapter per fortnight.

Once your goal articulation is sorted thought must be given to planning and measurement. Goals should be accompanied by strategies, milestones and sound measurement systems.

Is it any wonder more difficult goals get lost as the year progresses?

Nevertheless, with my coaching certificate neatly hung on my wall I tried rephrasing my more slippery goals into a more positive or ‘toward’ language making them as SMART as I could possibly muster and scheduling in as many check points as I could fit in my diary.

I tried this for years and it did not and has not worked.

While I must admit my brain is a lot more comfortable considering fitness over fatness and I do like the idea of knowing where I’m going via the setting of measurable milestones there’s something in the whole personal goal setting realm that hasn’t been working for me.

It’s simple really… It’s the daily habits that I have nurtured and the negative impact they have on the ways I’d otherwise like to be leading my life.

For example… Weight loss has bobbed around my list of goals for years but it’s gone nowhere. Why? Because I’m in the habit of sitting most of the day and drinking wine when the day concludes.

It’s not rocket science.

So, rather than focusing on my oh so SMART weight loss goal, instead I’ve been measuring (and more importantly directing my consciousness) to things that I’ve designed to chip into these habits — kilometres walked, visits to the gym and alcohol free days.

Yep, still not rocket science.

Is it working? One of the most interesting things is that a mere 12 days into the new regime is that I’m starting to crave movement in my day to day. It really doesn’t take a lot to shift a habit.

And is this contributing to the overall goal? Well maybe, but I’m not thinking about that right now because my focus is on building new habits that take me to the place I want to go.

Do you know what habits are getting in the way of your goals? Try identifying some things you can do to replace these habits. And… by the way if we’ve got a meeting coming up how about we consider a walk in lieu of lunch or coffee, I’ll pack my joggers.

Kerry Grace is a community engagement practitioner currently leading a regional development organisation in NSW Australia and managing her own company Evolve Group Network.

Kerry’s work focuses on sustainable small regional communities. She is a strong advocate of people leading the life that matters most (by their own definition), a mum and a big (read obsessed) fan of alpacas whom she adores to watch roaming on her hobby farm in regional NSW, Australia.

Kerry regularly blurts words about leadership, being a mum in business, self-care and adapting for an uncertain future. Join Kerry’s monthly mailing list.

Economic and community development practitioner. Useful tips for people who DO.

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