Look Behind the Scenes of Uncommonly Poor Habit Skills

Recently, I’ve been looking at habits differently than I have in the past. As I open up my awareness, the universe ended up providing me with a lot of information. Information landed in my inbox, there was a summit I listened to, even the podcasts I was choosing seemed to have a similar message and theme. More importantly, it was not only something I was thinking about it, it also came up in conversations with a variety of individuals and during my mentoring sessions with customers. When the universe is basically screaming at me to notice a trend, that’s when I know I need to start sharing with my community.

Today I am going to share my personal experience with goals and habits. It’s not super pretty, with a perfect happy ending. However,  I do think you may find some insight, a couple of new resources, and perhaps a better understanding for your own journey. Even though my story is about exercise, please substitute that with money, profits, sales, health, reading, or whatever is most important to you.

My Story

I am absolutely the person who tends to avoid setting goals or committing to changing habits. It just happens or it doesn’t. More than likely, it doesn’t. For awhile I would even look at, say my husband, and how dedicated he has become to his exercise habit. I would think – man, how come I can’t be so dedicated to my exercise program? Even worse – what’s wrong with me that I can’t cultivate that type of dedication?

Negative mindset, at least for me, seemed to go hand in hand with setting a goal. I was always comparing myself to how everyone else does it and digging in to the areas where I thought I didn’t measure up. Then, since I never found that string or pull of dedication, the habit, goal, or choice,  just didn’t happen. I have learned that there is more likelihood of success if I have some financial skin in the game, so there may be some angst for me around that.

Otherwise, regardless of what I was trying to do – it ended up as yet another goal I didn’t reach – in my head it really was no big deal. In my life though, it seemed like nothing ever “moved” forward or changed. Don’t get me wrong here, I have been able to make small changes over time (more like parallel steps in a similar direction), and while I can look back and see that movement, I will freely admit this here: my internal desire is just not moved by making that goal or checking it off my accomplishment list. There just isn’t any “push”. Therein lies the rub. If we don’t have that internal desire and push, how do we make the change and keep the change?

I did have one major win in the last two years: I have been learning how to write a goal! This was not something I learned early in my life or career. I have a great accountability group that has taught me how to define my goals, make them measurable, and be achievable. For the first year and a half, I struggled finding that perfect equation (and yes it’s very “punny”  that someone who specializes in accounting couldn’t figure out how to do a simple math problem). This, right now, is the first quarter where all of my goals are set-up to be achieved – and I am super proud of myself. Here are a few other things I’ve learned along the way.

KNOW What Your Natural Tendencies Are

I have been using this concept for team development, in understanding my team’s strengths, values, best learning styles, and even their personality. In fact, since I set out to grow my business in 2001, I have spent time exploring what makes me tick, so I showed up as a more informed leader. Thanks to Gretchen Rubin, Four Tendencies quiz from her book, Better Than Before, I was able to add to my own self exploration, and a light bulb went off in my head.

My results, according to Gretchen’s quiz, was as an Obliger.

More than happy to meet all outer expectations and then struggle with meeting those expectations I impose on myself.

So my massage therapist suggests more stretching, by darn I will do the stretching especially since it means it won’t hurt so much during my next massage. Or my business coach clearly outlines steps #1-10, sure you betcha I’ll do those – probably an hour before my next coaching call – but I’ll do them because admitting to my coach that I didn’t isn’t logical.

Then – when I write down a goal of movement (any movement) for 15 minutes a day – that I hit that goal around 40% of the time. Frustrating. Annoying. You Bet. Did it motivate me to change anything? No! Now that I had this insight as an Obliger, something clicked into place: if I changed the goal so I could include someone else, then I will be more likely to be obligated to them to succeed with the goal. As in, I needed a workout partner. Not just anyone that would ask me if I worked out like my accountability group or my husband (definitely not my husband). It had to be someone that I would meet and “show up” with – because, by doing that I was helping them, and added bonus – helping myself! By knowing this little internal quirk, things started to change.

Implement a Tracking Solution

I know, I know – a shiny new tools will not solve all of the world’s problems, definitely not one where my goal is more movement. I was listening to Michael Hyatt interview with Chris McChesney, author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution, which was especially insightful. It was the first time I had heard about the four disciplines in outlining a “Wildly Important Goal”. Discipline #3 is about creating and using a compelling scoreboard – the tool – “that supports creating a winnable game focused on the most important outcome”. While listening to the podcast, a lightbulb appeared: for the first time I could actually see how a tool, like a fitness tracker would be super helpful. It’s not the first time I have looked at a tool for this, it’s just that this time the awareness around it was different. It goes back to that adage: when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I guess my mental student was ready!

Tech is great. I actually love tech. But instead of a new app – I do use two for tracking some of my movement already – I was more drawn to a more creative tracking device. Enter, Map Your Progress, swirl tracking maps for your goals. Every time I hit my goal, I get to color in a swirl – plus it is hanging out where I can see it everyday, which is another reminder to me to get my butt in gear.

For me, seeing consecutive swirls colored in is motivating. Which also connects to another thing I know about myself: to learn something new, writing notes out with pen and paper works best and then I can transfer them to an electronic storage option. Just typing them in won’t do it, which is probably the reason why tech tools don’t sync with me unless I use them everyday.

Final Thoughts (and next steps)

There are so many exciting things to share, I’ll save some of them for another post. Let’s just say that all this awareness I have learned in the last two years has really helped to support me in understanding what goals are and how I can best set myself up for success in changing my habits. It is also why I have chosen to add mentoring services, specifically for customers that want to create new habits around their cash flow and have goals for growth in their business.

To wrap up this topic for now, if setting goals and changing habits is a struggle for you here are the basic steps I have implemented:

  1. Get to know what your natural tendencies are, the more you know about how you tick, the better you can work those tendencies.
  2. Educate yourself on setting goals and find one that speaks your language and kicks your brain into learning mode.
  3. Start with small goals that you can get some wins under your belt, that way training your mindset that you keep your word and achieve your desires.
  4. Find the support team or tools that work best for you.
  5. Rinse, and repeat. Now you are ready to change your world.

I am going to explore this topic further during this month’s Profit 101 webinar with my new friend and co-host, Amy Jones, Coach for Human Lights and creator of Map Your Progress. You can register for it here – once you do, you may join us live or receive a recording that you can listen to on your own schedule.

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