Podcast Transcript: Is It A Habit or A Goal?

Transcription of the Is It A Habit or A Goal? episode of the podcast Doers Shakers Makers with Sierra Bailey.

Download the pdf and listen and see the show notes here.


[00:05] We all have things we want to accomplish in life, in business, both big and small. Are we aiming high enough with purpose though? Are you setting habits instead of going for goals. Today we’ll talk about what the difference between goals and habits is and

[00:19] why you need both to reach your dreams. My name is Sierra Bailey. Welcome to Doers Shakers Makers, a podcast for go-getters to inspire you in your business and life. All right, so a few weeks ago we talked about long term goals and I said I would be back to have more of a conversation about the short term goals, but what I realized in looking through my notes and thinking about what to say is that I really would like to talk about the basis of what an actual goal versus a habit is. In my own personal experience and when I meet with clients, I realized that a lot of us are not aiming high enough with our goals we’re simply stating that we’d like to develop a habit or maybe even we’re just putting a task out there instead of a goal. And it’s great that we are thinking about habits and tasks.

[01:09] However, the reason why I like goals and what makes me so passionate about goal setting is that when you are setting a long term goal, it’s, I love that they change, I love that things come up, but it is giving you a little bit of a framework. And especially for those of us who are either an entrepreneur, small business owner, or establishing a goal within your life that has nothing to do with work. There’s not always a structure or a framework. So a lot of what holds people back is not knowing what they’re supposed to do or not knowing where to start. So by setting a goal, you’re kind of giving those of us that need a little more of a path, a path. Even though you’re defining the path, it still helps define it and helps you figure out where to go. Let’s start out with: what is a goal?

[01:57] A goal is an observable and measurable end result. Having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed time frame. So I’m going with the optimal goal here in that you set a time that it has to be completed by. And you have a way to measure the goal. It is a smart goal, but that is really the defining thing about a goal, a habit on the other hand, habits, are processes operating in the background that power our lives. We have both good and bad habits, good habits like reading every day, help us reach our goals and bad habits like smoking can hinder us. So the one thing that I will address is that many people who are very into talking about habits and the importance of habits like to talk about that goals have a downside. So let’s address what the downsides of goals can be.

[02:49] The first is that they end and we often go back to a bad habit after we have reached the end of the goal, be it if we got there or not. An example of that is a marathon. If you have a goal to run a marathon by the end of 2019 let’s say, chances are pretty good that after you run that marathon you’ll stop running every day. So people very into the importance of habits setting will say that it’s more important to set the habit to run every day. I like to say that it’s great to have both because the goal gets you motivated to set the habit and to get the habit going and then you can continue running afterward. I’m going to talk a little more about that in a bit though. Another downside is that we need power and self-discipline to reach our goals and often you use such willpower in that area of your life where you’re trying to reach the goal that it takes power from the other areas.

[03:40] So it’s sort of like the idea of I’m spending so much focus and energy on this over here that I’m taking it from this over here and I’ll develop bad habits in the area where I’m not having a goal right now. Another downside that is talked about are that goals are hard and habits are easier, which is why I want to point out that that is why it is so important to set the habits in order to reach the goals. Because yes, you should have hard goals, you should have big goals, so that you feel you are challenged and you feel you have a purpose and you feel you are having something that is motivating you to do all of these habits. So I think they are a beautiful tandem union, not that goals are hard. It should be a downside. That is I think, a very positive thing.

[04:21] Another downside is that goals are unrealistic at times and can lead to dangerous or unethical behavior. I mean, I can’t argue that, so I just hope that if you’re listening, you choose to not go in that path. But we have all seen that happen, especially with a lot of work goals and a lot of people that start to exhibit that unethical business behavior in order to reach a goal. They’re so obsessed with it, so let’s keep that in mind and last is that winners and losers can have the same goals, which I think is really funny because that’s a positive too, but in general, it’s like, all right, yes, you may not reach them, Yada, Yada, Yada, Yada. Again, why habits and goals in tandem I feel are very important. Let’s talk about why habits are so important. Why I think they are the golden child and the perfect companion to goal setting that habits are hopefully for life that habits can compound, especially when you’re in a situation of a bad habit being replaced by a good habit and habits are easier to accomplish than goals, but like I said, I’m a big believer in that the habit leads to the goal or that you establish good habits or remove bad habits with the idea of a goal that you’re trying to accomplish.

[05:33] I like goal setting because it gives a little bit of framework to the things that you want to do in life. A big reason why I burned out in my previous career was because I had reached what all of my goals were for my business and I started floundering a little bit. I wasn’t quite sure of what I wanted to be achieving and when I sat down and really started working on it and thinking about the big picture, I realized that what I was doing for my work was nothing that was taking me towards my big picture, which is fine, but if I had been paying a little more attention to my goals prior to that, I probably wouldn’t have reached the point. I either would’ve had other goals established or it wouldn’t have reached the point where none of my goals had anything to do with what I was doing.

[06:14] I mean it was all one big complicated mess, but I feel very strongly that the people that I talk with and see and the people that seem to be really enjoying the life around their success are people who do reach goals and to meet them, they feel very satisfied with these goals. They feel challenged with these goals. There’s also two ways of goal setting and I will talk a little bit about both. There is the, and I have a hard time going back and forth between this because as somebody who’s very creative and who has mostly had creative careers, I love creating things. I have this podcast. I have a blog, oh gosh, I have a blog which I have not blogged for like two months, but I still have the blog and I intend to keep doing it. I have random little creative things that pop up.

[07:00] I have the Doers Shakers Makers community. I consult with clients. I am involved in a lot of groups. I do a crazy amount of volunteering, so I get it. I get that it’s really hard to say I want to have one goal or I want to have three goals. Because even within each of the areas of my life I have a lot going on, so it’s hard for me to sit back and be like, I have one thing I want to be going on. So, I’m not saying that you need to be very, I’m only focusing on one to three things in my entire life. I’m not saying that kind of thing and I also am not saying that it should be the same thing that you stick with forever. I’ve talked about that in the long term goals episode. I really am a big fan though of that check-in and that constantly saying, am I on track for where I want to be?

[07:42] Am I feeling fulfilled? It gives you a way to organize sort of your thoughts and what you’re kind of watching for, so it’s more helpful if you are in one, a career where you are creating your schedule and you’re creating the benchmarks and you are in charge of where you’re getting. If you have goals like I need to have this much of a sales increase over a year’s time or I need to have this much in sales per month, or I need to have this many clients per month. Things like that. When you’re a small business owner really can help make sure that you’re getting the work done and give you an actual check-in of how work is going. So goals are really important for small business owners in that way, in the way that we don’t have a CEO to answer for. We usually are the CEOs of our tiny little businesses as they grow and some become big businesses, but there is no path that has been set that we can follow.

[08:36] So goals are a great way to help you set the path and know where you’re going. That is a really why I’m a big fan. And also on a personal level, even if you don’t work at all if you’re retired if you are being the CEO of your house and with your family, you still need to have things that make you feel challenged, make you feel like you’re accomplishing things or you start to feel like you have no purpose. So goals go in both work and business directions as well as in impersonal lives, such as running in that marathon or reading x amount of books per year or whatever that goal may be. They are just sometimes important for people to feel like they are doing things with their day. So that’s why I’m a fan of goals. I also think that we don’t set goals high enough.

[09:20] I wanted to talk about this today because I do this more than anybody. I am definitely one of the people that overestimates how much I can get done in a year and under, no the other way. How much, I can get done in a day and underestimates how much I can get done in a year. So I have kind of fallen into the habit of not setting big enough goals. And then I’m frustrated because I’m not getting where I want to be with projects and it’s my own fault because I’m not pushing myself hard enough. So that’s the other reason why goal setting is fantastic because sometimes you can look at what are things that I can achieve in a year and not only how can I get there, but am I getting to the places that I want to be? Did the whole year go by and I have no idea what I did with my time.

[10:02] This happened to me a few years ago with reading. I love to read and people would say, you know, and I think I’ve talked about this before, what would you do if you won the lottery? Or if you had, you know, on vacation. And I always say I would read all day and then I started realizing why am I not reading more? Also guilty pleasure time. Oh, reading during the day. So why am I not taking an hour to read during the day? This is like my favorite thing in the entire world. I already read at night before bed, but I wanted to be reading more nonfiction books, which honestly put me to sleep at night and not in a good way. I have started reading more during the day, which led to my doubling the amount of books I was reading per year and I am really proud of myself for that.

[10:42] So I feel good. I am enjoying my time and I’m doing things that are bettering myself in the long run. With all of that reading going on, I see it as a win-win. It was a goal that I could achieve and I put a deadline on it, you know, read x amount of books by the end of the year and I hit that deadline. So speaking of that, we have the result that makes it a goal. Right? Last year I think I set a deadline of like 80 books for the year or something. This year I wanted to read 100 books for the year and don’t feel judged if you’re not reading 100 books. This is, like I said, my own personal crazy goal. I love to read. So in order to read 100 books in a year, I need to track it. So I use GoodReads. It’s an app on my phone and my computer and it allows me to see what books I have read.

[11:24] I keep track of them. It’s great for this purpose. There’s a reading challenge every year and it motivates me. I like to beat everybody in order to work towards the result, which is a goal. You need to establish habits. So that would be the way you live your life. A set practice that you do regularly. In my instance of the reading, the habit would be reading every day or reading during the day or reading x amount of pages per day, we’re getting a little goal like with that habit. But it’s still when I started thinking, okay, there are 52 weeks in the year, let’s divide the amount of books I want to read. That’s approximately two books a week. So how many pages do I have to read a day? And then I started tracking that. And next thing you know, I am surpassing my goal because when I broke it down into these tiny things, I started thinking I can read 50 pages a day.

[12:14] And then that led to a hundred pages a day. And then on Saturdays, I like to read 300 pages a day. And next thing you know when I broke it down and saw how manageable it was, I took off like a rocket and am we’ll see how we go. Because you know, if it’s a busy month, I can’t read as much, but so far for the year I am over halfway and doing great. I will add that there is one more element to that and that is the task. And the task, something to be done. So for example, that would be like to read 50 pages. Today there are really three elements when we talk about goal setting, we have the goal, the habit, and the task. So another way to break that down would be your goal. Do Yoga 25 mornings this month. Your habit, do yoga every morning. Your task, do yoga today.

[13:01] It’s basically all going to the common thing and if you weren’t setting a goal, you still could totally have a task on your to-do list or a habit that you were setting, but when you line them all up, you see how those tiny little micro-actions lead up to accomplishing something bigger, feeling accomplished. I really think a lot of that has to do when people say, how am I able to be happy? I think a lot of that has to do with accomplishing goals and to feel like you’re reaching things and you’re challenged and that you are accomplishing things kind of bigger than what you thought you could do. It makes me feel a lot better mentally when I have goals and I’m setting them. So in that whole winners and failures have the same goal. Some of it is that don’t set yourself up to fail.

[13:41] Don’t set a goal that you’re never going to accomplish. Don’t set a goal that you can’t measure so you don’t know if you did accomplish it and don’t set a goal that is undefined and that you don’t really know how to accomplish it or it doesn’t do you any good. So again, there was that like, read a certain amount of books in a year or do yoga 25 mornings this month. Those are goals because you have something you can count and you have a timeline that that falls within. What’s really interesting is that if you Google common goals, there was a list that came up and I’m looking at the list and I was like, they’re all habits on this list. If there’s a thing, I think it’s called like 43 goals or something, and it’s a list that people can add to. It’s probably like on a listserve thing or something and I’m looking through the list and it’s like, stop biting my nails.

[14:26] Stop procrastinating. Blog. Be Happy. Daily entries, save money, read more. Guess what? These are all habits. These are not goals. So if you have these as your one, you know, if some of these are your three goals for the year, you’re not going to feel very, it’s kind of like a resolution, which is just a habit. You’re not going to feel like you’ve accomplished much. I mean, maybe you will, but how will, you know? Stop biting nails. There’s no, there’s nothing there that is, yeah, be happy. I mean, really, you can’t, how do you quantify that? I enjoyed, on the flip side of that, I know that Jack Canfield who writes all of the Chicken Soup for The Soul books is very known for publicly writing down all of his goals. The man has so many goals. He has lifetime goals, he has annual goals, and they’re all public and you can see what he’s accomplished.

[15:10] It’s crazy. It’s worth a Google just to be fascinated by how much this man has accomplished and what he probably will accomplish in his life. So examples of goals on Jack Canfield’s list, in his lifetime category are run 14 miles in less than three hours. I mean, that’s pretty specific. Master five magic tricks. Keye note at NSA conference. That’s the National Speakers Association, attend an Oscar Award ceremony and on and on and on. I think he has 100 goals to reach in his life or something. An example then of his 2019 goals are: take a 30-day vacation in Hawaii with his wife, watch two ted or ted x talks every week. So you see his goals and his goals for lifetime are a little crazier than the realistic goals of his year. But he still sets a good amount of goals each year. That also, I said I would come back to a little more later.

[16:05] The difference between keeping one to three goals and having tons of goals going at once. I’m more of a, tons of goals going at once kind of person. You should kind of keep them in those seven categories which I’ve outlined in the past. And you can Google that. Like the categories of life: spirituality, work, finance and health, and fitness are usually one. Family, relationships. You know, these are all varieties of them. So when you are thinking about what kind of goals to set, you can think about in those categories, what are things that you want to accomplish? And I change my goals all the time. That’s okay. Part of the whole process of what you’re doing like I said, is setting out a framework and kind of keeping yourself on track. So goals can change and that is not a problem. But the whole point of today was just to talk about the difference between goals and habits so that you can kind of understand the difference and how they can work in tandem.

[16:54] And that when you’re setting your goals, make sure that you’re setting big goals, so you’re pushing yourself in your setting a challenge. Not so big that you’ll never achieve it. You know, don’t say like, I want to lose 300 pounds in one year. That’s not going to happen. Like that is not a reasonable goal. So be realistic with your goals, however, push yourself because it will only make you feel better. And then establish those daily habits that will get you to your goal, one task at a time. So thank you for joining me today. My name is Sierra Bailey and this is Doers Shakers Makers, a podcast for go-getters. If you enjoyed this podcast today, please subscribe and if you’re listening with apple podcasts, rating and reviewing helps me get found. I’ll be back next Monday to keep you inspired and get you doing shaking and making.


The Doers Shakers Makers podcast is hosted and produced by Business Strategist, Speaker, and Writer, Sierra Bailey. Have something to say or want to say hi? Send Sierra an email.

Did you know that there is a group filled with people just like you, who love to learn, grow and connect? It’s the Doers Shakers Makers Facebook group, and we’d love to have you join us!

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