Using goals to create habits

Josh Sherman
2 min read

Goals are absolutely worthless if they don’t help you to establish habits or virtues.

That said, I love goals and consider myself somewhat of a goal-centric individual. Goals give me something to work towards and a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I achieve something I’ve set out to do.

But then what?

Once you a hit a goal, it’s done, it’s over, kaput.

Goals are funny like that. If you’re like me, once you accomplish a goal, you probably set a further reaching goal and repeat the process over again.

That only scales so far. Eventually I get bored with it and end up giving up completely on what I was setting out to do.

This year, I had set out to consume 50 books. Through my own diligence I was able to accomplish this goal in only 6 months.

So what’s next? Easy! Bump the goal to 100 books for the year and attempt to repeat the last 6 months over the next 6 months.

Then what happens? Am I supposed to read 101+ books next year?

I can only push the goal to a certain point before it becomes completely unattainable without cutting some major corners.

I could easily read like 700 children’s books a year, right? That probably counts? This isn’t cheating at all, is it?

Taking a step back and reflecting on the last 6 months I have come to realize that what matters most about a goal is whether or not it helps you to establish a habit.

What actually happened that allowed me to read 50 books thus far this year, was that I read every single day for the last 6 months.

It doesn’t really matter if I keep pushing the goal up. What matters is that I have gained the noble habit of reading a book for a little bit every day.

Moving forward, I’m going to focus my goals more around the habits I want to form and around establishing streaks rather than monumental accomplishments.

With that, I am planning to try to read 100 books this year then pivot to reading some more in depth tomes in 2018.

Now that I have a solid reading habit established, there’s not much reason to continue focusing on the volume outside of having the vanity metric.

Oh, and leave some book recommendations in the comments below. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever you’ve read recently that spoke to you!

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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