Goals and Habits
For the last three years I have gone into the new year with a phrase or motto.
2017’s was: Say Yes to Everything
2018’s was: Say No to Everything (Haha! Say no to the things that are not right for me)
2019 is the Year of the Voice.
This year I wanted to speak up more, do more videos, feel more confident and basically just have more of a presence. While this year certainly has been the Year of the Voice (well the first 4 months at least), another theme has emerged. Discipline.
At the end of 2018, one of my friends sent me a picture of her 2019 goals. I hadn’t written down goals since Grade 7 (minus the obligatory Life Orientation goals at high school), but I suddenly felt inspired to create my own. Sitting at the telephone, I drew up a list of random activities/tasks/goals I wanted to achieve. Most of them were habits or tasks I wanted to complete either daily or monthly. I started with four daily ones (meditate; complete Morning Pages; do Spanish; write three things I’m grateful for) and quite a few monthly ones, however, over the last few months, I added two daily ones (exercise for 15 minutes; write at least a sentence of my book) and dropped a few monthly ones. I have never been a fan of lists and plans, but these compulsory tasks seriously have been a game changer.
Focus on the Action Not the Goal
Goals are cool because they can give us direction and a purpose. In order to reach a goal, however, you have to put in the effort. While this may seem kind of obvious, I didn’t really fully understand it until I started completing daily tasks.
When I started to perform small tasks every single day, I realised that I was progressing a lot faster than what I would have been if I was just focusing on the goal. One of my life goals, for example, is to write a book, but this hasn’t been realised yet because I haven’t put in the work (at least up until this year). This year, I have written something every single day (sometimes even just a sentence), and because of this small, daily action, I am 12 000 words closer to the finish line than I would have been without it.
If you take a small step every day, you will eventually reach the top of the mountain.
Excuses – Make it Compulsory
Gee, I have discovered that I make a million-and-one excuses, and this is probably the biggest reason why I hadn’t completed what I wanted to complete in the past. Excuses that have popped up this year have included:
“It’s 9pm so it’s too late to exercise.”
“There is no electricity and water in Braamfontein, so I can’t exercise.”
“I have other school work.”
Last year I would have shrugged my shoulders, said it was too late/too cold, and climbed into bed. This year, however, I have forced myself to e.g. exercise for 15 minutes a day, despite the time, weather, etc. The funny thing is that after I have completed the task, I have realised that the excuse wasn’t actually a real obstacle.
Leading on from this; by saying ‘No’ today, you make it more difficult to say ‘Yes’ tomorrow. I.e. If you don’t exercise today because it’s 9pm, you are making it easier for future-you to not exercise at 9pm tomorrow. (You are creating an unnecessary constraint).
Another excuse I have made in the past, with regards to writing is, ‘lack of inspiration.’ In 2018, I had no compulsory tasks and ended up posting (I think) one blog on my website. This year, two of my tasks are to post a blog and hold a Facebook Live every single month. It is April and I have posted four blogs and I have held four Facebook Lives which leads me to believe that ‘lack of inspiration’ is just nonsense. If I hadn’t forced myself to complete each task, I wouldn’t have done it.
The Why is Important
If it’s not important to you, it is easier to drop. That’s what I’ve discovered. If I saw no meaning behind my daily/monthly tasks I would stop doing them. Moreover, excuses are a lot easier to ignore when there is a benefit/point to completing the task.
Personally, I don’t think it’s wrong to drop tasks. It all comes down to your ‘why’ and your values.
You Grow Through the Doing
Personally, I find the action more fulfilling than the actual achievement. Saying ‘Yes’ to a task every single day can be a challenge in itself, and so doing just that is a remarkable achievement.
Thank you for reading my April blog!
Do you have any daily/monthly tasks? What has your experience with them been?
Hope to hear from you!