Let’s talk about habits and goals. The simplest changes in habits can make a huge difference in overall happiness and literally change your life. So why can’t we just acknowledge that we want to change, and do it? It sounds simple, yet we find ourselves failing at it all the time. We set goals and then we make excuses instead of progress. I want to share with you a very simple way to change your life for the better. This simple to approach will make it possible for you to set goals and reach them for real this time.
A LITTLE BACK STORY
Several years ago, before we were married, Chris presented me with an idea: we would each name one goal for the new month and then we would stick to it. It could be anything we wanted. The only rule was that we picked one thing and spent the next month focusing on it. It sounded simple enough to me, so I decided that I would read two books that month.
I hadn’t read a book in years. I always wanted to, but never made the time to do it. But now, I had this very simple goal and all I had to do to be successful was stick to it. I picked my first book and proceeded to get totally lost in it for a few days. Looking back, I can still picture myself in our condo in Orlando where we were living temporarily for Chris’s job, laying on the couch, the floor, across a chair, lost in this random book I found at a thrift store. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
That first month, it was so easy to reach my goal that I started and almost finished a third book. I felt like such an over-achiever. Not only did I feel more confident because I set a goal and reached it, but it also improved my life because I was intentionally making time for something I enjoyed that enriched my life.
Soon, it was time for a new month and new goals. This time I picked laundry. I was so sick of the endless piles of clothes that weren’t put away. The disorganization was making me crazy. Every few weeks I would put away clothes only to wreck it again within a week. I knew I would be happier working from home in our condo if it was more organized. My new goal: put away the laundry as it was washed, every single time. Did you just gasp for air? I know, sounds crazy.
This goal was quite a bit scarier for me, because… laundry. But, I had one goal to focus on for the month so I did it. After every load of laundry I folded, sorted, hung and put away all of the clothes. It sounds like a simple thing, but it impacted my life in a positive way. Our home was less disorganized and cluttered with piles of clothes, so I was less stressed. I also realized that it’s not actually that hard to put away the clothes after each load.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE THEN?
Well, kids for one. Life changed a lot after having two kids. Do I still read? I rarely sit and read books but I do listen to 2-3 audiobooks per month. I have to do it differently, but I still do it and I still love it.
Do I still put away the laundry after every load? Yes, for the most part. I get behind a load or two sometimes when I have sick kids or a hectic day. Back when I created this habit, it was just me and Chris. We had far less laundry. Now I do at least one load of laundry every single day. If I have more than one load of clothes in a day I’ll fold and sort, but not put away until all the loads are done. That way I don’t have to put away a pile of Kai’s shorts twice in one day, etc.
I do have a bad habit now of pulling clothes off hangers, deciding not to wear it, and leaving them in a pile in my bedroom for a while. So while all the other clothes may get put away, I have some piles now. My kids also give me about 30 seconds to get dressed before they beat down my door because they think I’ve abandoned them, so ya know, life changes.
Overall, the habits have stuck. All these years later, and those two simple habits make my life better. If you really want to change your life, you have to be intentional about what habits you need to change. The smallest things can make a huge difference.
HOW TO SET GOALS AND REACH THEM
For the past two and half years I have been working with women, helping them reach their health and fitness goals. In that time I’ve learned a lot about people in general, myself included. Lately, I’ve been trying to find new ways to help women get real results without sabotaging themselves. Then it hit me. Simplify.
We tend to overwhelm ourselves with too many changes at one time. Then, when we fall off we feel like a failure, guilt takes over, and we feel hopeless. It’s really a vicious cycle. I’ve seen it time and time again with other women as well as myself. Of course, I’ve seen men in my life do this too.
I truly believe that the best way to successfully change habits and make it stick is to simplify. Maybe your list of goals is a mile long, and your life is a total mess. You feel like you need to change it ALL right now. This is even more reason to take it one step at a time. Happiness comes from progress, and if you want to see progress you need to set yourself up for success. Being successful at reaching your first goal is going to build your confidence and make it easier to reach your second goal, and so on.
FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS – THE SIMPLEST WAY TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
- Brain dump. Write down a list of goals. I will provide a list of ideas below, but I’m sure you also know what you want to work on. This could be anything big or small. Take the time to envision what you want your life to look like. The person you want to be, what does that person do every day? Those are the habits you want to create.
- Pick one. Very simple, just pick one thing that you can focus on for the next month. I wouldn’t recommend starting with the hardest thing on your list. Remember, we are building confidence in ourselves as we go. You may not realize it, but chances are the person who believes in you the least right now is you. We’re going to change that though. One success at at time.
- Be intentional. Pick your start date. It’s easiest to start on the first day of a new month, but if today is the 3rd then try starting on the 5th, depending on what you need to do to get prepared. If you don’t need to purchase or prep anything, start tomorrow. You don’t want to go too slow. Giving yourself time to think of excuses is never a good idea. We are human, we can always find excuses.
- Create a visual. If your goal involves something you do or don’t do daily, take sticky note strips and stick a line of 30 of them up somewhere in your house that you see every day. Pull one off every day as you get closer to your goal. If your goal is something like reading 3 books, create a simple sheet with large check boxes and post it up.
- Celebrate! When you’ve made it to 30 days of practicing your new habit, celebrate and mark that off your list. Be intentional about sticking to it as you pick your next goal for your next month.
IDEAS FOR GOALS TO SET
- Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily
- Go for a walk every day
- Start and finish 2 books (Here is a list of some of my favorites)
- Floss your teeth every day
- Reach out to 20 friends or family members and let them know what they mean to you
- Finish 3 small home projects that need to get done
- Write in a gratitude journal every day
- Put away your laundry after every load
- Cut sugar out of your diet
- Cook dinner nightly and save money by not eating out
- Sell 30 items you find around your house to decrease clutter and make money
- Say daily affirmations out loud (this really works!)
- Stop watching TV
- Do 15 minutes of stretching every night
- Unplug from technology after 6pm daily
- Eat vegetables daily
- Paint or draw daily
- Complete a mini-course in something you’ve been wanting to learn
- Workout or go to the gym daily
- Declutter one drawer or closet per day
- Visit one new spot per week in your local area that you’ve never been to before
- Make your bed daily
I hope you’ll take the time right now to start your brain dump and set your first goal! And when you do, I would love to hear from you! Comment below and tell me what your first goal is so I can cheer you on!
If you need reminders or help with your schedule, try setting up a daily agenda that’s emailed to you each morning. You can learn how to do that here.
Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.