The Power of Habits - Why we should forget goals and change habits

A new year is starting and you might also think that it is a good time for new resolutions? Time for a healthier life, a happier relationship, a promotion, or a job change? Ever made one before? Didn't work out? Don't worry, for one thing, you are not alone and for another thing, there might be a way to make it this time? Do you want to try? Then keep reading.

Why do we often fail to keep our good intentions?

The first few days seem promising, but before the first week is over, the good spirits leave us and we return to the familiar routine. Yet it is always said that failure is supposed to be so helpful. But what if no reorientation follows and new opportunities are missing? Darn it.

"Goal has little to do with achieving results."

James Clear

What makes change so difficult?

"Just do it," is so much harder than it sounds. No matter how much we visualize our goal achievement, why is it so difficult to get into action?

James Clear describes in his bestseller "Atomic Habits" an easy way to build good habits and get rid of bad ones. Contrary to the widespread belief that all we have to do is set concrete and achievable goals, Clear advises against this. He has done it himself for years: he set goals for certain grades in school, for the weights he wanted to lift in the gym or the profits his company should make. He realized that achieving results depends less on the goal, i.e. the "what", and more on the system, i.e. the "how".

"If you're an entrepreneur, your goal may be to build a million-dollar business. On your system, you test product ideas, hire employees and run marketing campaigns. If you're a musician, your goal may be to play a new song. Your system is how often you practice, how you break down and tackle difficult measures, and how you get feedback from your instructor," writes Clear.

He even goes a step further and asks the question of whether we would be successful if we ignored our goals completely and concentrated only on our system. Clear’s answer is: yes!

He justifies this as follows:

  1. Winners and losers have the same goal: In a competition, the goal does not determine the success, because mostly all participants have the same goal (namely to win).

  2. Achieving a goal is only a temporary change: The goal of having a tidy room is not achieved by tidying it up once if bad habits lead to the room being untidy again soon.

  3. Goals limit your joy: The attitude that the next moment of happiness is only connected to the achievement of my next goal makes us wait for happiness.

  4. Goals contradict long-term progress: If a marathon participant's goal is the finish line and training ends after that, what is the motivation that drives him/her after that?

Fall in love with the system

That is why his motto is to fall in love with the system. In my view, however, the defining concern is always the first step. In order to reach the goal, we have to find a way to change our habits in the long run - not off the shelf, but tailored to our life circumstances.

With this in mind, what do you want to achieve and which habits would you have to change?

Think about your goals and what you want to achieve in the long run. Maybe you can think of ways that you would like to make a habit of and bring you to sustainable success.

What do you think?

Have you ever changed your habits? What has helped you with the implementation? I am curious about your impulses.