“Vision without action is just a dream.” – Joel Arthur Baker
“Destiny is not a mystery. Destiny is daily habits. It’s mind over matter. It’s nurture over nature. It’s a daily grind in the same direction. Show me your habits. I’ll show you your future.” – Mark Batterson
I’ve never been a big fan of setting ambitious goals or dreams without having a supporting action plan. I talk with many people who share grand hopes for the future, but in follow-up conversations a year or two later, I learn most didn’t achieve what they’d dreamed.
Days turn into months, and behavior changes never happen to instigate the necessary activities that turn actions into outcomes. For example, a big problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we fail to consistently practice the action that’s needed for us to succeed. Whether it’s getting out of debt or getting into shape, the habits we adapt dictate our progress.
A recent Duke University study shared that 45% of our daily behavior is automatic. So if we want to see meaningful change in our lives, we must reverse-engineer the steps toward a goal to put the right habits in place to achieve that desired outcome. As I think about some of my goals this year – for me personally, for my family, and for our agency team – this topic of habits and building a successful system is top of mind.
I recently heard author Mark Batterson talk about how he thinks about his habit formation, as he explores more deeply in his newest book, Do It For a Day. He assesses his habits with three questions: “Are my habits measurable? Are they meaningful? And are they maintainable?”
- Measurable: We map miles, count calories and budget dollars. Our habits are quantifiable.
- Meaningful: If I take on the desired persona, I believe I can do it. I believe I am a runner, so, therefore, I am able to run 30 minutes today.
- Maintainable: Can I do it for one day? If so, I can do it again tomorrow. I spent time writing today, so, therefore, I can also write tomorrow.
Batterson looked at the habits of some of the most successful leaders in American history to hack their routines. What he found is that the top trend across all of them was their ability to focus and put discipline around their daily habits. Batterson shares that we often overestimate what we can do in a year or two and vastly underestimate what we can do in five or 10.
The encouraging news is that you’re always only one habit away from any goal you set.
In those moments when I feel like I just don’t have the time, I remember that a friend told me the average person spends two and a half hours per day on social media. That’s 15% of our typical waking hours. Unfortunately, when I look at my weekly iPhone activity report, my social media usage isn’t far off (even if some of it is work related).
So how do I accomplish big goals? This week, I’m focusing on one new habit to integrate daily.
What one habit could you adopt this week to see if it makes an impact in a month?