In my last post I talked about new years resolutions and how that subject lead me to setting business goals for myself. With all of the contemplating I was doing with my business goals I decided I wanted to implement the same strategies into my personal life and set some goals for myself as well. As I sat down to write out these personal goals I really started to wrestle with the word GOAL. The goals that I was setting for myself didn’t really feel like goals so much, but more like lifestyle changes or things that I wanted to start incorporating into my daily life in order to grow as a person.
The problem with the word goal, in my opinion, is that goals have an endpoint, they have a due date if you will and that endpoint becomes the subject that we focus on. Don’t get me wrong, goals are great for setting direction for your life but I believe its more about the actions we take to achieve our goals that are important. When we set a goal we create small habits throughout our day to help achieve that goal. This is called an outcome based habit, a habit that we create purely based on the outcome we want to achieve. Once we reach our goal those habits usually fall by the wayside because we were focusing only on the endpoint of the goal.
I have a great example for you, a friend of mine set a goal to run a Tough Mudder Race. This friend hasn’t worked out in years but in the months leading up to the race he started going to the gym to do strength training and run on the treadmill. He did this consistently for two months. When the day of the race came he felt prepared and, although it was still really challenging, he enjoyed himself and was able to finish the race. I cut his hair three weeks later and at that appointment he filled me in on all of the details of the race and talked about how much fun he had. He mentioned how grateful he was that he had physically prepared and that the training had benefited his life in many ways. I thought that was awesome and expected to hear that he was still going to the gym because of all the additional benefits he mentioned. When I asked if he was still training even though the race was over he said that he went to the gym for the first week but then life got too busy and it just wasn’t a priority anymore.
My friend set a goal to run a race and by doing that he created a new system of habits that changed his life. But because these habits were created to achieve a specific goal of running the race and not necessarily to become a runner or more athletic he stopped the healthy habit of working out and went back to his old ways. This is what happens when we set goals, we focus so much on the results that the positive life changing habits we form to achieve those results slip away once we meet our goal. Therefore setting goals only changes our lives for the moments we are working towards that final achievement.
This brings up an important question: are we really setting goals or trying to create new and improved life? The answer for me is that the personal 'goals' that I had in mind are things that I want to become a part of who I am, a part of how I define myself, a part of my DNA. I want these personal goals to become a part of my identity, daily or weekly habits that create a lifestyle of continuous improvement for the rest of my life. So I had to ask myself some questions:
Who am I?
I'm a hairstylist
I write blogs
I workout 50% of the time
I eat healthy 50% of the time
I meditate when its convenient
Who do I wish to become?
My goal was not to meditate, but to become someone who meditates.
My goal was not to write a blog, but to become a writer.
My goal was not to swim a lap, but to become a swimmer.
My goal was not to eat healthy, but become a healthy eater.
My goal was not to workout, but become someone who is athletic
Who I currently am is a reflection of my current behavior, that is how I came up with the 'who I am' list. I’m confident in my skills and I believe in myself as a hairstylist, that is a part of my identity. I'm able to practice those skills daily and I take pride in creating routines and identity based habits to continue to improve in this area of my life. As you can see from the list our current behavior or habits are important because they make up who we believe we are, our identity. Until recently I haven't been looking at the habit of meditation, working out , eating healthy and writing as a part of my identity. I would just create short term goals followed by outcome based habits in order to reach those goals and then I'd fall off the wagon because it was spring break, or summer, or winter! I could give you a million excuses as to why I wasn’t following through.
The purpose behind me wanting to workout and eat healthy is that I want to not only maintain the physical abilities that I have now but I want to improve upon them and still be able to physically do all of the activities I currently enjoy for the rest of my life. I want to become someone who is athletic. However I've never thought about my habits in this way. I haven't looked at my goals from the viewpoint of who I wish to become and create habits based on that identity. These are called identity based habits and once you create a system based on the identity you want to embody its much easier to create habits to support this identity long term.
This brings me back to where I started with goals, I think goals are great for certain areas of our lives but we have to want to change who we believe ourselves to be in order to maintain a true behavior change long term. Our behavior is made up of our habits, whether we are aware of it or not, habits make up our daily routines and our identity emerges out of these routines. This means that by focusing on creating identity based habits we can shift the routines in our lives one small win at a time. Those small wins will not only give us the results we are looking for but help us to believe in ourselves because we are becoming the people we wish to be! That is what I want for my life, to imporve my identity and feel confident while doing it!
Hi, I'm Jolene, I started my career in the hair industry over 12 years ago. I have learned a lot along the way, not just about being a hairstylist but about life. I'll keep you up to date on the latest hair color and cut trends of the season, educate you on all different kinds of hair products, styling tools, and everything life!