Do you struggle to stick to your new habit? Here’s why

A woman is holding flowers

The number one reason why so many of us don’t achieve the goal is we don’t connect this simple fact - To achieve any goal, you also need to change your habits. 

Yes, there are more points to consider however this is the big one! This is where most of us go wrong which leads us to giving up on the goal at first place. 


Who ever you were up to this point, being the same person will not get you where you want to go. Whatever you’ve been doing to get you here today, will not get you where you want to be in the future. 


Have you ever started year full of enthusiasm, plans and ready to start own business, get your finances under control, start a new course to redirect your career? Of course you have, we all do that on New year, right?

Only to find ourself in the same pit a few weeks later. 

Why is that? Where does that initial enthusiasm vanishes? How do you let the same cycle repeat?


Last year was really bad year for you. 

You lost the job. You got into debt. Or like me, you lost relationship. 

Whatever made your last year a bad one, you do not want to repeat it, right? And that’s why you’re here. 

Keep on reading, I am going to share with you the insights and strategies how we can make this year, a better one. 


So why is it that you did not achieve what you set out to achieve?


Well it comes down to blind spots, we are not aware of, that’s why they are called blind spots. However by going over the past year reviewing what’s been going on for you, writing a few points down, you may become aware of them. 

This is a simple process, all you need to do, write in bullet points your answers to these questions.

What has gone well for you last year?
What challenges did you face?
What did not go so well for you and why do you think that is?


You may be thinking, well how is reminiscing going to help? Well for two reasons. (1.) You will identify some positive experiences so you’ll boost your overall mood and feeling about past year and (2.) this is the big one, You want to identify what you need to avoid doing this year.


Blind spots

Let me explain what they are. It’s the negative thinking, beliefs you have about yourself right now, your values don’t align with the goal you have for yourself. It’s insecurities and self-doubt. Also, the blind spots are the areas of your life which lack your focus


This was certainly, the case for me. I am ambition and I’ve always been striving for more. In past 8 years, I put my career and personal development first, not checking in with other important areas of my life like relationships, health, finances. And the consequences are, you may be wondering? My 10 years relationship ended earlier this year, I started to smoke again and my finances are as bad as they were 8 years ago. 


I’ve been obsessing over those two areas for so long, that I have lost a very important part of my life. It’s as serious and heart crashing as it sounds. By no means, I am complaining. It’s a wake up call I’ve been needing for a long time. 


To become aware of your blind spots, you need to review past year. There’s no way around it. I gave you a questions you need to start with. Do that now if you have not done it yet. 


If I have learnt anything so far in past 30 years. Everything is fixable, repairable and can be overcome with the time, right strategy and action. This may sound harsh but the breakthroughs come from struggle. You persist and keep trying different ways, it’ll work out, you’ll get there. I mean, I will actually give you the steps you need to take to get you there.


Where is your focus?

What I want you to do now, is to review your main 6 areas. Here are 2 reasons why:


There is always another level you can move to. So how can you find out where you’re at and how to move further? By reviewing important areas of your life. Why? The number one reason we get burnt out, is that we place all of our focus on one area, for example: career and all the other areas suffer. This is how you end up having a year that totally sucks instead of successful one.

You get out what you put in. I know, this is common sense. But I feel I’ve got to remind you of this. Simple things are easy to overlook. 


If you are reading this article, thinking - This will not work for me. I’ve tried this before, please stop it right now. Or ask yourself, what if this will work for me? Have I really tried it with all of the effort and intention?


So you’ve done your assessment. Let’s get clear now, which area needs your full attention. 


Common pitfalls and reasons why we don’t achieve what we want. The 7 things to consider when you’re setting the goals. 


1. CLARITY

Without a clarity, you wonder, you get easily stuck, you become easily swayed into doing things what other people want for you, not necessarily what you want for yourself. 

Without clarity, you become unhappy. Because you never took time to clarify for yourself what you want, not only from a new year, or your life but from this week, month or from today. 

More clarity you use in daily interactions, less confusion you’ll experience. 


(Tips: Read Brendon Burchard, bestselling book High performance habits, which is now nominated to one of the best business books of the year. He spends a big part of the book explaining the importance of the clarity.)


Thinking of the 2018, what is it you want for yourself?

What one goal, if you achieved in 2018 would make the whole year - the absolutely best-est year yet? You’d walk with your head up high, feeling like you’re floating above the ground. What would make you feel like total winner?


• Is the goal you’ve picked going to change your life? Is it going to make a difference in your life? If yes, how exactly it is going to change your life? If no, what made you pick this goal?

• What makes this goal, more important then any other goal you could have picked?

• What will remind you daily, of this goal?

• How do you need to show up every day to achieve this goal? You need to be different person to achieve that goal than the person that got you to where you’re at right now. 

• What obstacles can you predict which will hold you back from achieving this goal?

• If you’re afraid of failing again, disappointed again, think what have you learnt from those past experiences? (Tips: Consider reading my article about Perspective)

• Once you take action towards your goal, more and more you do it, more confidence you will experience. Last week, I’ve attended psychology course on confidence. The advice given to gain confidence, no matter what you’re trying to get more confident in is Action and Repetition. Genius! So if you see out there any courses offering a quick confidence boost, forget it! You need to take consistent action and confidence will follow. In this exact order, not the other way around. 


An important point to mention is the clarity does not just appear. I think some of us have this idea that one day it’ll just hit us, or we will have aha moment where light bulb will turn on in our head and here we are - so clear about our lives and its meaning, our purpose and where we need to go and what we need to do. This is not how it works, you’ve got to try different things, see what’s the best fit for you. 


2. VALUES

If the goal is not in alignment with your values, you’ll give up on it or you won’t, you’ll achieve it but it will not make you happy. The simplest way to explain what values are - they are what’s important to us. 


Here’s how you can check if your goal is in alignment with your values:

• Thinking of the goal, all you can think of are external rewards? Example: Money, house, holidays. And that is fine, what i need you to do is to attach these external wonderful we all want rewards to internal ones. Let me explain. You want more money because having more money means security for your future. Having more money means you can support your struggling mother. More money means you can spend more time travelling. More money means you can enrol to a course and change your career. Let me give you another example, you want a house. Having house means you’ve got a tangible way of investment for your future. Having house means more security for yourself. Having house means, your mother can move in with you and you can look after her. 

• You get the point, no matter what you’re trying to achieve, connect your heart to it. You’re more likely to achieve it. In fact, when your goal is attached to an important value, it’ll drive you, motivate you, it’ll fire you up. 


3. FOCUS

I’ve mentioned focus earlier, you remember example from my life when I kept my focus on career and  lost focus of all the other areas of my life. To not do the same mistake, depending on the size and time frame of your goal, I’d suggest you download and complete this assessment every 2 months.


4. IDENTITY

This is a big one. I’ve mentioned it in the introduction. To achieve any goal, you also need to change your habits. 

This is where most of us go wrong which leads us to giving up on the goal at first place. 

Remember! Who ever you were up to this point, being the same person will not get you where you want to go. Whatever you’ve been doing to get you here today, will not get you where you want to be in the future. 

Can you see yourself living up into your goal?

Can you envision yourself in the future accomplishing this goal?

Or do you secretly believe, this is not me, I’ve always been this way, I don’t believe I can change?


Let me give you a concrete example.  I want to stop smoking this year. I can see myself as non smoker because I’ve done it before. I believe I can totally do it. 

What’s interesting about this example is:

⁃ it is easier for me to identify myself with a goal because i’ve got past experience, I’ve done it before so I know I’ll be able to do it again

⁃ personally, I need to work on the identity I am attaching to this goal and there are a certain points I will need to work on, because last time I stopped smoking I put 17 kg on. Since then I’ve slimmed down however I do not want to get to the same point. This image could be a big obstacle for me in achieving this goal. 


5. COST 

I am sure you’re aware of the economic term opportunity cost. Well, surprisingly this term does not apply only to economy, but also to goals, new habits and day to day life really. 

What this means is, when you’re deciding to do something, you’re giving up on other things. 

Let’s say you decide to study cognitive behavioural therapy course at your local college which will be costly and time consuming, so overall you won’t be able to meet your friends as often as you’re used to for the same reasons, time and money. 


When deciding on the new habit/goal, be sure to consider opportunity cost. What will you need to give up in order to achieve this goal. For you, it may mean spending less time with your partner, cooking at home oppose to eating out. Less time socialising because you won’t need to go for cigarette anymore with your co-workers. 

This is so often overlooked and it is one of the pitfalls of goal setting. 


6. TIME

Setting specific time is good for you, it’ll give you a push and urgency. But you also want to remember this one point:

When setting up the time frame, be sure,  it will probably take longer than you expect. So be realistic but also know that you may need to add a month or two. As long as you are aware of this at the start, you will feel less disappointed if you don’t get to the results you wanted in the time frame you originally set for yourself. 

I don’t want you to feel bad or be too hard on yourself. The last thing you want is chasing your dream making you feel bad about yourself. 


Thinking of your goal, when do you want this by?

I’ve got to mention here, that for many of us, if the goal is just too far away from present, it can actually demotivate us to extend we give up on goal all together. 

So let’s say, I always wanted to become a psychologist. This is my goal now, I am 100% sure this is what I want for me. I’ll start researching to find out it’ll take me 7 years to become a professional psychologist able to start my practice. 

Now 7 years is a loooooog time. It’s 7 years of study, 7 years of paying out 10 thousands of pounds to university, 7 years of minimum time for other activities or other areas of my life like my relationships, career… It’ll take me 7 plus years until my goal starts paying off. Considering this, I feel like I no longer want to become psychologist. 

This is just an example, for you this could represent something else. The point here is, if the benefits are too far away in the future and it’ll take you long time to get there, you  need to break it down into small manageable pieces identifying quick wins along the way. Otherwise your huge goal will scare and demotivate the hell out of you. Like mine did. 


And this is my favourite part, one of my top five strengths according to Gallup (American research-based, global performance-management consulting company where you can also take assessment and find out what your strengths are) is strategising. I am really good at planning out the critical steps for action. 

So what you do here is: list out all the steps you will need to take in order to make your goal happen. And by all, I mean from the smallest to the biggest ones. 

(Tip: For more information, check out my study case example of how this works which the real goal)



7. STRUGGLE

Are you familiar with the term loss aversion, wikipedia description: “It’s better to not lose £5 than to find £5”. Loss aversion very much applies to goal setting too. You may find yourself fearful of losing what you have. Let’s say you want to get a new job, you may be stopped and give up on the idea completely by thinking - what if the new job is not better than the job I have now? Or, but I like my co-workers what if I don’t get along with my new ones?


To avoid falling into loss aversion trap, ask yourself:

what is the worst thing that can happen?

will you be worse of than you’re now if you find that your new job is as bad as old job? 


You can be sure that achieving goal, no matter what that goal is for you or creating a new habit, changing the old habit, getting rid of bad habit, no matter what it is you want to achieve, it is going to be a struggle. 

The whole process will not go according to the plan, you’re going to have a bad days, you’re going to find it difficult and you will also want to forget it, give up and get back to the old ways. 


So when that happens, this is what I want you to do. 


C + R + R + S = SUCCESS


Consider: What are likely consequences of you not taking action and giving up?

Remind yourself: What difference were you hoping to create for yourself, for your life, for your loved ones?

Remember: As result of this change, what person did you want to become?

Sum up: Why was this important to you and why was it important to you now?


You may consider writing answers to these for questions on the small card so you can carry it with you. Or write it on the post it note and stick it somewhere you will see it daily, mirror, kettle, desk, mac, back of your phone… set a reminder. Pick what is the best way for you to keep these for 4 reasons on your mind. Especially when you want to relapse. 


That is all you need to know to stick to new habit, follow-though on your goal. I would love to hear from you in the comments below, what new habit or goal you working towards or if you have any questions relating to this article, make sure you write them in the comment below.