The contradiction

I’ve written about goals before and also about weekly planning and thinking small.

At a first glance, there is some contradiction in these posts. You can think big (goals) or small (micro-tasks).

And creating a weekly planning can reduce stress, but having too many goals and tasks can increase stress.

Yet all these techniques can work nicely together.

When we need goals

The simple answer is that we only need to set goals when we need them. But that answer is probably not clear enough.

The purpose of setting new goals is to break the status quo and move yourself in the right direction.

If you want to lose weight, you set a weight loss goal. If you want to improve your fitness, you set a fitness goal.

My trick for running more was to enter myself for a race (10km, or half marathon) at a certain time in the future and start training for this race. My goal was not to run more, I really wanted to finish that race and run a distance I had never ran before.

Yet, there are so many people who have a new year’s resolution at the start of the year and never reach it.

That is because having a goal is only one half of the circle.

When we need habits

Habits are your daily routine. Once you have formed a habit, it becomes much easier to do so.

Do something everyday for a number of weeks and you have created a new habit.

Goals need habits.

If you want to able to reach your running goal, you need to create a training habit. If you want to reach your weight loss goal, you need to change your eating habit.

This is the reason I go from a long-term goal, to a weekly planning with daily tasks. The tasks need to become a habit to reach your goal.

And for you to be able to find time to do these daily tasks, they need to be small enough.

The danger of goals

The danger of goals is that you set too many of them at the same time.

Have you ever tried to follow a calorie restrictive diet and at the same time increased your training effort?

I did. Imagine coming home after a 2 hour run and not having any food in the house because you wanted to restrict your calorie intake. The end result is that you rush to the nearest shop and buy the most calorie loaded food you can find.

When forming new habits, you need to make sure that one new habit is formed before you can try forming another. Just take it one step at a time, one habit at a time.

If you have too many goals, you just get too overwhelmed and stressed out and give up in the end.

Conclusion

Don’t get confused by goals and habits.

Some people write that habits are better than goals or that goals increase stress. But this is only the case when you jump in without really having a structured process for moving forward.

Form habits for each step towards your goal and take it one step at a time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.