Using Habits to Reach Your Goals – Part I

Reaching your goals in life can be tough. However, there is an easy way to make reaching them much more obtainable.

It’s through the use of adding successful habits and removing unsuccessful ones.

First we need to understand what makes up a habit.

  1. The Cue (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
  2. The Routine (the behavior itself)
  3. The Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)

I’ll be referencing these more below.

Here’s my 4-Part System to Implement New Habits:


1. Analyze your current habits and determine where you want to make changes 

Example, say you want to wake up earlier and focus on self-improvement. The trigger in this case is the alarm clock going off, and the reward is being able to sleep a bit longer. Understanding the habit is the first step in changing it.




2. Design a new habit routine

How do you want your new habit to look like? For the morning routine example above, maybe it’s waking up an hour earlier, exercising, meditating and then reading. Write all of these steps down into a notepad so you can reference them later. I talk about my successful morning routine more in this post.



3. Record your progress each day on your habit

Measure your progress on your new habit each day. I use a spreadsheet on my phone to check off days that I successfully perform the new habit. Some people may find a physical calendar better suited for this. The typical rule of thumb is after 21 days a new habit should form.

Afterwards, continuing the good behavior becomes much easier. I encourage you to still continue recording your progress. This will keep you on track if you end up missing a day or too and prevent you from falling back into the old habit.



4. Develop awards for reaching critical milestones

This is a fun one! I typically will encourage the good habit by setting a personal award for reaching strategic milestones.

If you see a new item that you want but don’t necessarily need, consider then using that item as an award for reaching a certain amount of days in a row of the new habit. Alternatively, instead of using days in a row as an indicator, I’ll typically require myself to hit a certain percentage each week (This allows you to miss a day and not give up immediately afterwards).

Soon after implementing a few new habits, you’ll notice things starting to change in your life. Reading everyday will propel you forward with many new skills. You’ll notice that once something is a habit, doing so is easy and requires little thought.

It’s like driving a car for the first time. Once you start, you are thinking of every little aspect – like where to put your foot, how to hold the wheel, where’s the blinker, and etc. But once you master the habit, you can do it effortlessly.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and best of luck!

Bill Womeldorf is an energy efficiency consultant and real estate entrepreneur in Boston, MA. He’s typically the one with the reusable water bottle in business meetings. When we all work together, he believes, it’s possible to solve the climate crisis. You can follow Bill on twitter @BillWomeldorf and read more about self-improvement and sustainability on his blog.

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