"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.

Last week when I wrote my Ultimate Guide to motivation, there were a number of questions about my belief that having One Goal to focus on is much more powerful than having many goals.

How to Turn Your Goals Into Habits

There were questions about my personal goals (such as running a marathon, eliminating debt, and so on) and how I was able to achieve them while working on different projects, and so forth. 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.

My Marathon Example

Let's look at my marathon goal as an example. I was just starting out in running, and I had the brilliant idea to run a marathon within a year. (Btw, that's not the brightest idea ― you should run for a couple years before attempting marathon training, or it'll be much, much more difficult for you.) So that was my goal, and it was my main focus for awhile.

But in order to achieve that goal, I broke it down into two habits:

1. I had to make running a daily habit (while following a training plan I found online).

2. I had to report to people in order to have accountability ― I did this through family, friends and coworkers, through a blog, and through a column in my local newspaper every two weeks. With this accountability, there's no way I would stop running.

The daily running habit took about a month to form. I focused on this exclusively for about a month, and didn't have any other goals, projects or habits that were my main focuses. I did other work projects, but they kinda took a backburner to running.

The accountability habit took a couple months, mainly because I didn't focus on it too much while I was building the running habit. But it stuck, and for that first year of running, I would report to people I knew and blog about my running every day (this was in Blogger blog that has since been deleted), and I would write a column every two weeks for my local paper.

Once those two habits were firmly entrenched, my marathon goal was pretty much on autopilot. I could focus on my debt reduction goal (as an example) without having to worry too much about the marathon. I still had to do the work, of course, but it didn't require constant focus.

And eventually, I ran the marathon. I was able to achieve this because, all year long, I had the daily running habit and daily accountability habit. I put my marathon goal into autopilot, and that made it much easier ― instead of struggling with it daily for an entire year, I focused on it for one month (well, actually two) and was able to accomplish it while focusing on new habits and goals.



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