As I come down the home stretch of 2015, I am taking stock of how the year played out against my goals. This is a habit which my parents help me to form a very long time ago. We used to do family goal setting, in fact. While I think goal setting is important, I don’t think it is an end to itself, (set it and forget it).
I was listening to a fizzle podcast recently where the topic was “How to create your own definition of success.” (A great listen for your end of year personal review process). What struck me was the discussion around the habit or technique different people use or don’t use for tracking personal success. It turns out, some people don’t bother at all. They have no kind of plan and just let life kind of flow over them. There have been years like that for me, (particularly when my kids were young). Looking back, that decade is kind of a blur. Probably because raising kids and working full time is a grind that no-one can describe to you. I wonder if those years would have been different had I been in the habit of goal setting and personal review?
I have read a lot about habits and written about them here in TGLL, because I think it is fascinating.
- “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
- “I am Habit” poem in the opening of Sean Covey’s book and written about in TGLL
- The States of Change
- “This Year I Will” by M.J. Ryan
From that research and learning I’ve tried to create, modify or otherwise manipulate my habits with varying degrees of success.
Creating a new habit is not as difficult as I thought. My exercise program of the last 10 months is a good example. I didn’t set goals, I devised a routine. So when people ask how much weight I’ve lost or what I’ve done, as if I had a secret or a magic bullet, it is hard to answer in a sentence. I committed myself to the practice, on a daily basis of more exercise than what I’ve done normally. I don’t check in on the progress with strict measurements, I can see and feel it, over time.
Changing an old habit is much more difficult than I thought. My big one this year was negative self talk. That gets me into so much trouble. First I spiral down into it and then I tend to try and draw others into the vortex. I’m not sure if other people will think I’ve done a good job on this over the year, but I sometimes am able to catch myself. When I look back at what I was thinking, or about to say, I am shocked. Who would say such a thing? Me. This is an area of ongoing renovation.
As I look out the window today and review the weather forecast, it looks a little cloudy and is supposed to be a bit more windy than yesterday, which was blazingly and wonderfully warm. So it is probably a good day to spend some quality time thinking about my habits and the year to come.