Reaching goals by sheer willpower in a short amount of time is like trying to climb a big mountain all at once. It’s definitely possible, but it’s tough and can be exhausting.
Studying for an exam just the night before, building your entire portfolio in one day, learning a language in one week, or trying to lose all extra weight in ten days—this approach may not always work.
On the other hand, building good habits and having a routine is like taking small, steady steps up the mountain each day. It’s much easier and less tiring.
For example, studying for an exam for an hour a day or dedicating only 30 minutes per day to language learning makes the big task more manageable.
When you build habits that support your goals, it’s like having a guide that leads you up the mountain in a smoother way. These habits make reaching your goals more achievable because you take consistent, doable steps each day. It’s like breaking down a big challenge into smaller, easier-to-handle pieces.
Here are some examples of common goal-oriented habits in different areas of life, like health, career, and relationships. You can use them as a starting point when brainstorming your own goals.
Regular Exercise Habit
What are your goals here? Perhaps a specific number of steps per day, a daily morning run, or a yoga flow for improved mobility?
You could set a goal to exercise a certain number of times a week and develop a routine around it, such as working out first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be complicated or take a long time. In fact, you’re more likely to stick to your new routine if you make it very easy and very short at first.
Balanced Diet Routine
You could improve your diet by planning your meals and shopping with your menu in mind. You could dedicate a day to food preparation, such as chopping vegetables and preparing sauces and marinades to make healthy food more palatable. Once shopping for healthy food and cooking become part of your weekly routine, it is much harder to give in to the urge to grab those unhealthy snacks or opt for fast food.
Daily Task Planning
You could become more productive by planning your workday in the morning or the night before. For example, you can intentionally build a habit of writing to-do lists, prioritizing your tasks in order of importance, and reviewing your list at the end of each working day.
Another thing you could do for your career is to set aside time each week to learn new skills or improve existing ones. When done consistently, even an hour a week will yield noticeable results!
If your relationships are important to you, you can make it a point to stay in touch with friends and family regularly. For example, you could establish a pattern of meeting at least one friend per week or texting or calling your closest family members every day.
Developing a productive routine is an easier and more effective way to achieve your goals, and you are also more likely to maintain the results.
Think about it: If eating healthily and exercising regularly don’t become habits, you aren’t likely to maintain the weight loss you achieved through a crash diet.
If you don’t have a cleaning and organizing routine, your house isn’t likely to stay clean and organized, even if you clean it all at once from time to time.
Developing your productive daily routine
It’s time to develop a routine that supports your goals. Begin by analyzing your current routine. Take a good look at what you do each day and how you spend your time. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there any areas for improvement?
- Do I tend to waste my time?
- Which parts of my routine could be made more efficient?
- Does what I do every day align with my goals?
- What are my priorities?
Second, divide your day into dedicated blocks of time for different tasks and projects. Make sure your schedule is realistic. Oftentimes, we try to commit to doing too many things at once and end up not accomplishing anything. Chances are, you will not be exercising three hours a day or dedicating the entire day to language learning. Opt for smaller, achievable goals at the beginning, and as you become accustomed to your new routine, you can gradually raise your standards.
Be specific about what you want to achieve. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to stay on track. Remember that it might be challenging to stick to your new routine in the beginning. Sometimes, you might feel like doing something other than what you planned, but the more consistent you are, the easier it will become.
Finally, be flexible. Things do not always go according to plan, and it’s okay to adjust your schedule accordingly. Some people tend to overreact when they cannot check off all the items on their daily list and feel like a failure if they can’t do so. Resist the urge to overreact, and remember that adaptability and a balanced perspective are critical to maintaining a healthy approach to productivity and self-management.