Establishing Habits to Reach Your Goals


For 40% of Americans, myself included, the new year is a time for personal reflection and making resolutions. Each January, I look forward to setting goals, making changes, and setting myself up for success in the coming year.

In 2018, one of my goals is to develop new skills that will help me become a better leader and more well-rounded professional. Learning a new skill is a popular resolution – about 15% of Americans surveyed by YouGov resolved to learn a new skill in 2018. Another 14% of respondents listed “Find a new job” among their goals for this year.

It’s inspiring to know so many people want to make a positive change in their career! But, as we all know, sticking to our resolutions is difficult. Now, three weeks into the year, many struggle with staying motivated, and, by the second week of February, 80% of resolutions will have failed. So how do you stay motivated and committed to your goals throughout the year?

Creating habits

Recently, I watched a Simon Sinek video in which he compared accomplishing leadership goals to achieving a healthy smile – you don’t get a great smile by just brushing your teeth every once in a while. A healthy smile is the result of regular, ongoing, habitual activities. In the same way, achieving your goals takes commitment to forming better habits.

A lot has been written on the subject of establishing new habits. While there are many different approaches you can take, here are some of the most popular (and effective) ways you can create new habits and follow through with your goals in 2018.

Be specific

Often when we set goals for ourselves, we think about them as lofty ideas. “Learn a new skill” is a great example of this. While it’s admirable to want to learn a new skill, being specific and defining what skill or skills you want to learn will be helpful with your long-term success as you’ll know exactly what you’re working toward. Rather than saying you’ll learn a new skill, pick something specific to your goals, such as mastering 2D drawings from 3D models in SOLIDWORKS.

Create a plan

As French pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry famously said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” With a clearly defined path to achieving your goals, you’re more likely to follow through. As you create your plan make sure that it’s sustainable, that it works with your schedule, and that it makes sense for you.

Building on the above example of mastering 2D drawings, your plan may involve taking a course in addition to practicing your skills regularly. Selecting a course that doesn’t interfere with your schedule will make you more likely to complete that step in your plan.

Start small

Tackling your goals in small, manageable pieces, allows you to build habits overtime, which is more effective than an all or nothing approach.

Continuing with the above example, starting small may mean allocating ten minutes every morning to course work. While this may not seem like much, this time adds up throughout a year and helps create a consistent routine.

Set reminders.

Instead of relying on your ability to remember to do things, set reminders on your phone or calendar. Putting a repeating event in your calendar helps ensure you don’t forget to do something or fall into old habits.

Reward yourself and stay positive.

As you finish pieces of your plan, reward yourself for your hard work! If you fall behind or a part of your plans takes longer to complete than anticipated, keep a positive attitude and keep going. Doing these things will help you stay motivated and continue through your plan.

Proactively creating new habits will help you achieve your goals. By being specific, creating a plan, starting small, and keeping at it, you’ll reach goals and keep those resolutions.

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Jason Wright
About the Author

SolidProfessor Co-Founder and CAD enthusiast, lifelong learner, bass guitar player, yogi.