Going beyond goal-setting in 2022
We are a few weeks into the new year and flashy new diaries, journals and gym kits have been purchased. Gyms are packed full of people who have (yet again) resolved that ‘this is the year I get fit.’
The average person is living life in this first month of the year against the ubiquitous ‘I want to do better’ soundtrack.
Goals are brilliant tools for motivation, but habits relate to behaviour change that eventually deliver long-term success.
Achieving goals only bring about temporary change. That you achieve your goal of losing weight by June does not necessarily make you a healthy person. In fact, it is very easy to relax, collapse into old unhealthy habits and watch the cycle of weight gain repeat itself.
How then do we break the cycle of unsustained achievements?
James Clear, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller ‘Atomic Habits’ offers a way off the treadmill of short-lived achievements. According to Clear, “if you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
He goes on to say, “the purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game.”
As mentioned earlier, achieving weight loss in and of itself does not guarantee that you will keep the weight off. However, developing a mindset, routine or habit of healthy eating, exercising regularly, ensures you continue ‘playing the game’ (of keeping a healthy weight) even after your goals have been smashed.
You have simply developed a habit of being healthy, fuelled by a system of intentional choices about your diet and exercise.
The same is true of our professional lives.
Dear Legacy Leader do not be surprised if after getting the promotion you have been lining up for years, you relapse into unhealthy patterns that eventually make it difficult for you to sustain the promotion.
If on your way to promotion you invested heavily in CPD, networking events, coaching, etc, what happens after you move into the big corner office with nice views?
Do you stop attending trainings? Do networking events lose value to you? Does punctuality slip further down your list of priorities?
The tragedy of it all is that CPD, training, punctuality and networking are some of the life-sustaining habits and systems that will guarantee your longevity in that nice, spacious corner office.
Like Clear succinctly puts it, “you do not rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.” Which is why it is important to develop habits that stick.
Habits that Stick
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity.” James Clear
The most effective habits are those connected to how we want to see ourselves.
To set yourself up for success in 2022, reframe the question from “what do I want to achieve?” to “who do I want to be?”
If you want to break the glass ceiling in your organisation or sector and enter senior leadership roles, Clear suggests you work backwards from the question: ‘who is the type of person that could be appointed to a senior leadership position?’
It’s probably someone who is organised, punctual, invests in personal development, advocates for others, etc. Consequently, you start working towards building success-fostering habits and systems like sleeping on time, waking up early, signing up for trainings, etc.
These systems become woven into the fabric of your professional life and secure your success long after 2022 has come and gone.
Put it this way: habits that stick lead to success that stick.
Make the shift this year from temporal, outcome-oriented goals to lasting habits by joining the She Leads for Legacy’s community of inspiring community Black Professional Women raising the bar in different sectors.