03 Dec

Two Articles, 10 Minutes, Instant Change

I spend a lot of time thinking about to help make change happen. That means spending a lot of time thinking about goals, how to set them, and how to meet them. (And spending even more time thinking about how and when goals go awry.)

It’s no surprise then, that a headline like “Habits Can Beat Goals in Improving Performance“ would catch my eye, nor that it would turn out to be the most useful article I’ve read all year.

Basically, in an excerpt from their upcoming book, Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin explain about how to turn a goal into a habit, and why that’s so important. They outline how to bridge the often insurmountable gap between what you want to achieve and what you’re actually doing.
They draw heavily on the work of psychologist Wendy Wood of Duke University whose theory of “habit-goal interface” assumes three principles:

1. Habits respond to environmental cues (same place, same time)2. Habits arise when people use a particular behavior to pursue a goal, and habits will remain even after people stop having that goal as a pursuit (the habit of running every morning can aim towards the goal of losing weight; running will be habitual even when the ideal weight is reached)

3. Habits do not change to meet current goals; they remain linked to the environment in which they were created (running outside in the summer may not be transferable to running inside in the winter)

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense: A goal, by itself, is meaningless. You have to take action. How you turn those actions into regular parts of your life, how you make a commitment to them, is like building the path to your goal brick by brick.
Perhaps the best part? Right at the end of the article, they sneak in a reference to another article, which has been almost–if not equally–useful: “An 18-minute Plan for Managing Your Day” by Peter Bregman.
Check them out, and let me know what you think….