Having big life goals is exciting, motivating and necessary for propelling yourself towards the things you want to accomplish. But sometimes enormous life goals can also create fear or overwhelm, which can cause you to feel stuck. Establishing small daily habits to automate certain areas of your life can help you build a sturdy foundation from which you feel more empowered to take risks, try new things and move forward.
Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty, calls these habits “certainty anchors”. They add a sense of reliability to your day so no matter how many risks you take, your habits will always be there to depend on. Daily habits are also a key tool for optimizing your productivity… that is, if you develop productive habits!
How To Develop Daily Habits
To set yourself up for success, try these six tips for establishing new daily habits:
- Be realistic. Focus on building one new daily habit per month. You could experiment with a few if they are smaller easier habits, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Although it is tempting to try and change more than one habit at a time to reach your goals more quickly, taking on too much change at once can often be counter productive. If you start to feel overwhelmed and discouraged then even your good habits might start to slide. It’s better to do one thing and do it well then move on than to try to do several things at once and not do any of them well.
- Be specific. Clearly state what the new habit that you want to build is. For example, if your desired habit is to start each work day better organized with a daily plan, what does that look like for you? It might be something like “I will get up 15 minutes earlier so that I can arrive to work 15 minutes earlier. I will block time on my calendar for the first 15 minutes of each day to review my task list and prioritize my tasks for the day. During my planning time my email and phone will be turned off and I won’t allow myself to be distracted or interrupted. I will schedule my prioritized tasks in to my calendar.”
- Commit yourself fully and don’t give up. To make your commitment stronger, write it down, say it out loud to yourself and tell someone else.
- Go easy on yourself if you stumble. Instead of getting angry with yourself, learn from your missteps. Figure out what caused you to go off track, deal with any external influences that may be getting in the way, and reset your course.
- Be flexible. It’s important and helpful to set a goal but keep in mind that some habits will be easier to develop than others. In the long run, it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you build it.
- Each time you hit a milestone—one week, one month, six months, etc.—reward yourself in some way.
Once you are able to consistently execute your daily habit without having to think about it, you’re ready to move on to establishing your next new habit. What will your next new productive habit be and when will you start?