What’s on your list of life accomplishments? Those milestones big and small that you think, I’ll get to that one day? For some, it’s starting a family. Building your business. Climbing Everest (I just did my first 14er this summer). Completing a triathlon. Writing a book.
Each of these requires a clear vision of the goal, but more importantly, the willingness to create healthy habits toward progress. We are a goal-focused culture...and this may be working against us.
Let me explain: while we can set specific goals (do 5 real estate transactions this month, build 8 new relationships, lose 10 pounds, run a 10-minute mile, save $1000), unless we change our daily habits, none of these will occur. The goal is fine—lofty, even. The hard work starts when you stop talking about it and start working toward it.
Let’s take weight loss, for example. Statistically, most American could stand to lose a few. Our midsections have increased with the size of our homes, our cars, and—not surprisingly—our consumption of crap foods.
The goal of losing 10 pounds is swell. (See what I did there?) But you can walk around with that goal in your increasingly larger-sized back pocket if you are unwilling to make healthier choices every step of the way. Developing a habit of healthy eating is hard (and, in America, is counter-cultural). But this is where the real change can be found. It isn’t in dreaming about the goal, but in the little daily changes that add up to fewer calories in than spent. (It is ultimately still all about that formula, regardless of what trendy diet Hollywood is following today.)
There are goals and there are habits. Do you know the difference?
Let me give you a few examples:
If you are a real estate agent or broker, your goal may be to find 100 new clients per year. The habits you’ll have to follow to meet this goal could be: joining and attending networking groups, starting a community group, serving your local schools, walking your neighborhood for an old-fashioned door-to-door introduction and flyer campaign, or buying the right CRM software to do some of the work for you.
The daily habits you need to master to accomplish these goals include:
- Two face-to-face conversations with past clients
- Five phone calls with past or current clients
- Three hand-written thank you cards to those in your database
What if you threw away that vision board and, instead of thinking about the goals, celebrated the new, healthier habits you were creating? I challenge you to not think about your goals this week. Instead, make a bullet list of the different habits you are strengthening that are making you better.
My list looks something like this:
- Set up a powerful morning and evening routine that supports where I want to be in life.
- Walk 20 miles a week with no phone in hand.
- Read 1 book per week.
- Made a point of complimenting my staff at least once a day.
- Write a handwritten note to one customer per day.
The next step is to build in accountability. Just because we erased those goals doesn’t mean we get to become lazy slobs. The opposite. This system will help us become lean, mean, real-estate-selling-machines. The accountability habit requires sitting down at the end of your week and reviewing your other habits. What needs refining? What needs to be entirely erased because it just isn’t working? What needs to be increased because you underestimated yourself, and you can, say, actually read two books a week?
Write this down beneath your bulleted list for the week. Then turn the page and make the next week even better.
Another way to visualize the process of building goal-supporting habits...is comparing it to the way they make samurai swords (or used to):
They take a piece of steel, fire it, bang it, and fold it, then bang it again, and then they fold it, and keep banging it. They pound on it and fold it, so they’re squeezing all the oxygen (bad habits) out. They repeat this process over and over to keep making it perfect.
So every time you think, I’ve got to transform myself and my business in 90 days—no, you don’t. That’s not how it works. Do your best in a 24 hour period, and then for a week, and then fold it into the next one. Get rid of all the impurities and all the bad stuff, and then fold it again and start over. This is how building great supporting habits works. This is how building a great life works.
It’s all about the habits. Don’t let the goals get in the way.