"First we make our habits, then our habits make us."—Charles C. Noble
It's such a simple concept, yet it's something we don't always do. It's not exceedingly difficult to do, and yet I think it's something that would make a world of difference in anyone's life.
Break your goals into habits, and focus on putting those habits into autopilot. How can you have one goal that takes a long time, and still work on smaller projects at the same time?
These are excellent questions, and my answer takes a little explaining: I try to turn my goals into habits, and in doing so, I put my goals on autopilot. Turning a goal into a habit means really focusing on it, intensely, for at least a month, to the exclusion of all else. The more you can focus on it, the more it'll be on autopilot.
But once you put it on autopilot, once a habit is firmly established, you don't really have to focus on it much. You'll still do it, but because it's a habit, you only have to use minimal focus to maintain that habit. The goal becomes on autopilot, and you can focus on your next goal or project or habit.
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."—Jim RyunHow to Turn A Goal Into Habits
It's a pretty simple process, but let's go over it step-by-step:
1. You goal should be written out very clearly.
The better you can visualize your goal, the easier this will be.
2. Think about the steps needed to get to your goal.
There may be many.
3. Can the goal be accomplished with a series (2-4) of daily or weekly actions?
For example, to save money, you will need to make a savings deposit every payday, before you pay your bills. Through that regular action, the goal will eventually be accomplished. Figure this out, and that's your habit or series of habits.
4. Figure out the amount of the habit will need to be done to get you to your goal by your timeline.
By "amount", I mean that you have to figure out quantity times frequency to get your desired result. For example, I can run every single day, I have to also know how far (and any other things such as different workouts on different days.) If I'm going to have a savings deposit every week, I need to know how much is necessary for each deposit in order to reach my goal. Figure out this "amount" for your habit and make a schedule.
5. Focus on the first habit for at least one month, to the exclusion of all else.
Don't worry about the other two habits (for example) while you're trying to form the first habit. For more on forming habits, this article is good place to start.
6. If more than one habit is necessary, start on the second habit after a month or so, then on the third, and so on, focusing on one habit at a time until each is firmly ingrained.
7. After all the necessary habits are ingrained, your goal is on autopilot. You will still need to focus on them somewhat, but to a lesser extent. If any of the habit gets derailed, you'll have to focus on that habit again for one month.
8. After you're on autopilot, you can focus on a new goal and set of habits.
By Leo Babauta, Guam