When you want to change your life, you probably have a specific goal in mind. However, if you only adopt new habits to meet that goal and then stop, you’ll end up back where you started. Instead, focus on building whole new habits.
As advice site Make Smarter Decisions explains, habits come with an entirely new approach to living your life. Goals are milestones along that new path. Having a goal may be a nice way to measure your progress, but the end result should be to keep your new habits even when you reach them.
I think a lot of people are highly motivated when they set goals and probably have a lot of success when they get started on the goal. But Jim Ryun (a three-time Olympic runner and the first high schooler to ever break 4 minutes in the mile) has a great quote about this — “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” I love that.
Focusing on the habit also highlights that the changes we want to make are permanent. Going on a temporary diet to lose weight or saving money to meet a specific goal feels like something you can stop when you’re done. However, a better goal is to change entirely to a new habit system. That’s scary. We don’t want to leave behind our old ways of eating, spending, or doing whatever we want. Yet the best way forward isn’t a temporary focus on a minor goal, it’s an entire lifestyle change.