“All big things come from small beginnings.”
As you reflect on your goals of 2021, do you feel frustrated that you haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve? Maybe like me, you wanted to get fitter and stronger and whilst you have achieved some aspect of this, you haven’t fully accomplished all the goals you had set for yourself!
Today’s post is not about reminiscing about your failed attempts or the frustration you may have felt in not achieving your resolutions for 2021. Instead, it is about understanding how 2022 can bring you everything you want if you are willing to open your mind to new possibilities of how to set goals effectively.
For years I have been setting goals. In fact, I even use NLP to support my clients to set future goals, which I find to be an incredibly powerful tool. Recently, I have come across the amazing book, Atomic Habits: The life-changing million copy bestseller“>Atomic Habits by James Clear, which is slowly transforming my thoughts around goals and why it may be more effective to look at habits.
Have you ever set a goal for a specific event or occasion, but then found yourself reverting to old habits once you achieved the goal? Maybe you have lost 10kg for a wedding, only to find that you have gained it all a few months after the big day. Or, you successfully trained and competed in a race, but then stopped running as soon as you competed in the event?!
During my time in clinical practice, I have come to realise that most of us want similar things. We want to be healthy, feel energetic and feel good in our bodies so we can enjoy life to the fullest. Most of us are pretty good at self-sabotaging our efforts to achieve this. For the purpose of today’s post, I am not going to dive into the detail of the ego and why we are so good at self-sabotaging our efforts, but instead, I want to focus on the concept of goals vs the systems.
According to James Clear, ‘goals are about the results you want to achieve’, whereas ‘systems are about the process that leads to those results.’
Let’s take getting fit and into shape as an example, a common New Year’s resolution for many. Let’s for a second forget about the goal, but instead focus on what you need to do to achieve this. For example, regular exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, reducing your alcohol intake, living a healthier life. If you consistently follow through on these efforts, there is a pretty good chance that you will get fit and into shape.
The bottom line is that when we change the system (the habits that form the process), we change our results. James takes this further by focussing on building identity-based habits, rather than outcome-based habits.
Your habits inform your identity. By going to the gym regularly, you believe you are a fit person who likes to do exercise. By eating healthy, you see yourself as a healthy person. The more you believe a specific part of your identity, the greater the chances that your actions will be in alignment with your beliefs. This is especially true for all aspects of your live, not just for achieving your goals. The truth is that you are more likely to act like the person you believe you are. This can cause problems when you are looking to achieve goals. Why? If there is any conflict with your identity, then you will struggle to create habits to achieve your goals.
I have a friend who always tells me that she hates exercise. She has always hated exercise and truly doesn’t see the point in doing it. This is a belief that she has had since she was a young girl and now in her 40s, she is still very much confused by the pleasure I get from spending time in the gym or prioritising my netball matches over anything on a Sunday evening. If my friend wanted to set a new goal for getting fitter in the New Year, she will undoubtedly have conflict. Conflict with her identity as someone who doesn’t enjoy exercise or see the point in exercise.
If you want to create the 2022 you truly desire, then think big. Don’t just focus on the individual goals, instead focus on the identity you want to embody and then create the habits that will enable you to embody this identity. Small habits can make a meaningful difference, and this can create the evidence for the new identity you are embodying.
- Each time you eat healthy, you are a healthy eater.
- Each time you exercise, you are someone who loves to exercise. You are an athlete!
- Each time you sit down to meditate, you are a meditator.
- Each time you write a page in your journal, you are a writer.
Each time you perform these small habits (remember this is all part of your identity-based system) you are getting closer to your results, whilst at the same time creating the evidence that proves that you can accomplish these things. This over time builds trust in your own ability and naturally shapes the identity you want to become.
Become the person you want to be.
Remember, you don’t have to get it right all the time. There will be times when you engage in unproductive habits, that’s completely normal. The key objective is that you accomplish your habits most of the time.
Behaving like you have been behaving to date will only result in getting the same results you have always gotten. To get different results, you need to consider the following:
- Decide on the type of person you want to be. Ask yourself, who is the type of person that can achieve the outcome I want to achieve?
- Engage in habits to prove to yourself that you can be this type of person. Take action!
- Writing down your habits with clear intention of what the behaviour is you want to engage in. Be specific and make sure to write down the time you will be performing the habit and the location where you intend to perform the habit. Research shows that when we write down our intention in a specific way (‘implementation intention’) we are much more likely to effectively stick to our goals.
To become the person you want to be, or as I like to call it, the best version of yourself, you are going to have to continually work on your beliefs and habits to expand your identity. It is constant work in progress. Whatever it is you desire for 2022, make sure you embody that version of yourself. If you want to be a healthy person, then be a healthy person through having healthy habits. In 2022, become your habits and be the person you want to be.
If you are interested in reading more about Atomic Habits, I highly recommend that you make this the first book you read in 2022. You can purchase the book using the link below.
If you are ready to take full responsibility for your health and goals and feel ready to get your health back and to transition into the best version of yourself, then book in for a free breakthrough session with me.
I would like to wish you a very happy and healthy 2022. Thank you for all your support during 2021.
Photo credit @love_from_the_wind.