It’s 2019, new years resolutions are on, and let’s just pretend for a moment, you’ve decided to become rich. You’re tired of your student loan debt and eating frozen waffles for dinner, and have always dreamed of a life full of bikini-pool-parties and chuking down Rosé champagne on your private yacht.
Most people who approach the goal of becoming rich operate approach it like:
- Let’s start with making $100.
- That’s easy! Now I’ll make $1000!
- Umm… that was kinda hard. I have to make $10 000 now!
- You eventually make your $10 000, but only the mere thought of making a $100 000 is freakin daunting.
- You say Fuck it! and go buy yourself a 60-inch flatscreen TV.
- Ahhh! That feels good!
And there your dreams of bikini-pool parties and big watches crashed like the Hindenburg into an oil patch. Along with all your savings.
If you’ve ever read up on finance or popular self-help books, like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you’ll know that the rich make their money a little differently. Sort of like this:
- Make $100.
- Invest those $100 into skills/training/assets/self-development until you eventually make $1000.
- Invest those $1000 into skills/training/assets/self-development until you make your $10 000.
- Invest those $10 000 into skills/training/assets/self-development until you crack the $100 000.
- Bla bla bla. You get the point.
Some people think they can create financial wealth through adopting a ‘spending mindset’ in which they see money as something to be spent. Whereas the ones that actually make the big bucks see money as something to be invested. A so-called ‘investing mindset’.
So why am I telling you all of this? It’s simple, goals and very often, new-years resolutions function on the same principle as the spending mindset. Do more of X, and eventually you’ll get Y.
So what’s the problem with that?
Goals vs. Habits
Let’s take the most cliche new-years resolution for the sake of this example – I want to lose 20 Ibs and look sexy/have a six-pack/etc. until summer.
You overcome your hangover on Janurary 1st, go away and sign up to the gym on Janurary 2nd and hit the gym on Janurary 3rd.
I would think that most people had a similiar new-years resolution before. But anyway, you force yourself to hit the gym 5-6 times (mostly out of guilt), don’t really have a clue what you’re doing, and by the time it comes to Feburary things look a little different.
Look at all those skinny people sweating! I don’t like this! Can this treadmill go any slower? I’m tired! I want pizza! I want ice-cream! I want a burger! Or maybe a pizza ice-cream burger!
Aaaaandd now that its Feburary you somehow end up tripping over your gym bag, into your joggers and start ordering Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and 2 for 1 margherita deals.
Yes, the struggle is real.
You see, most goals we set rely on our ability to have some serious self-discipline. Something most people fail at after a short period of time. This is because it follows the same principle as the ‘spending mindset’. Do more of X, and eventually you shall have Y.
Putting this XY principle into practice, saving and working really hard for 20 years is unlikely to ever you rich, just like hitting the gym 9 times a week until you finally lose weight is also unlikely to get you long-term results. Eventually, in fact, very quickly, you will run out of energy and discipline and return to the same old person you were when you started.
That’s because we only have very limited energy and discipline to dedicate to a certain activity. Instead of investing your energy into chasing a single hit, it is much more efficient to build the right habits that help you achieve your goal whilst making them a part of your own identity.
The reason why habits are swept under the carpet, is because goals sound a lot more sexy. Goals are idealized in the media, in books, and by business gurus making us believe they are the way forward. Goals also sound motivating and give us a clear image of our end-result.
But the reality is this – say you set yourself the goal of starting a Podcast this year. Well if we’re honest, you’re just going to put it off until you finally feel like doing it, right?
Habits however sound pretty boring. They engrain exactly what they say – doing the same stuff over and over again. You see, the only goal of a habit, is to keep the behavior going. Sure, you may hit some milestones/goals you have set yourself in the process of practicing a habit, but ultimately, its the habits that transform you as an entire person into a version you want to become.
Going back to the Podcast, you could say that a more efficient way of getting it started is by saying – I want to make my Podcast a daily part of my life.
With goals, it will very quickly become harder to hit the gym every day. With habits it will become harder not to hit the gym once they are fully engrained.
Research has shown that establishing new habits takes up to 33 days. 33 days until a certain action has become engrained into your daily behavioral repetoire. In this respect, you only have to dedicate your finite self-disicipline for 33 days to building a habit, until the response becomes automatic.
One last thing before you go…
Like we saw earlier, the spending and investing mindset, at their core, differ in one major thing….
So, when you begin thinking about your habits, I’d like you to think carefully about what you actually want. Don’t just pursue the gym because your mom told you to lose weight or because you somewhat believe that it’ll do you good.
Think about your intention. Its not about whether you feel you want to do it. Most people hate going to the gym. But rather, think about what you value in your life. If you value your own health and physical fitness, then great, you should have enough reason to go to the gym.
If you’ve thought about giving up smoking, but simply value a short-term high more than your long-term health, then don’t give up smoking!
You see, habits only ‘stick’ when they are in alignment with our values/intentions. This requires some self-awareness too. But that can be practiced.
Set yourself habits you believe in and that you want to see come true in your life. Start chasing the experience of making an action a daily part of your life, and allow it to transform you as a person into a better version of yourself.
That’s all I have for you guys,
Thanks for reading! 🙂