Why I Set Habits Rather Than Goals

Intentional living, aka life by design aka, life on purpose, as I like to call it. It really is about making a plan on how YOU want to spend your days, and then doing it.

life on purpose, intentional living

It means you show up for your life, it means you take responsibility, it means you don’t let life just happen to you. You direct it.

I’m not very good at it, but I sure do try.

It all started with writing out some lists a few years ago. I think it helps to have the perspective of where we were at the time. We had three kids in three and a half years. One of our babies was always crying. I felt like a hostage in my home, I rocked the mom martyr scene, got super anxious about everything, my husband got resentful, we sought out marriage counseling and plowed through a lot of ‘stuff’.  We were creeping up to a healthy place again. We knew we couldn’t let another year of being new parents go by without us taking more responsibility for how it would roll out.

So we made lists of how we wanted to parent our kids, the routines we wanted to be part of our kids’ lives. We wrote out the things we hoped we could personally accomplish that year.

It didn’t mean it all miraculously happened but it changed things, improved things, drastically.

Now every New Years we talk about how we want the year to roll out. I’m hesitant to call them resolutions, I’m also hesitant to call them all goals.

Goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable and time specific). Maybe I just get resistant when I feel tied to a goal. (Type nine problems) I don’t like any pressure to accomplish things – especially when they are things I’ve listed as goals that aren’t really goals!

For the most part, I think we have, and probably a lot of other people, are listing the ‘habits’ we want to start developing. Things like eating healthier, calling our grandparents, reading more books.  A goal would be something like ‘read 52 books in 52 weeks’. A habit is ‘reading at night instead of scrolling facebook’.

I’ve found more success with setting out HABITS over GOALS:

LESS PRESSURE – There is less pressure to complete something by a certain date. Every day you get another chance to work on your habit. You don’t always get another chance to achieve your goals.

BECOMES ROUTINE – Goals can take a lot of discipline and sometimes disrupt your life to accomplish. Developing habits allows you to incorporate them into your life and makes them a routine you don’t have to think much about.

LONGER LASTING – When a goal is accomplished, it is over. Habits become a routine part of your life and stick around longer than a goal

FLEXIBLE – Habits can ebb and flow with the realities of life. If I have babies, I can’t even think of setting a goal like running a marathon in nine months. But I could set a habit like, get out for a walk every other day.

As we sit and plan out our Year on Purpose. I find that we have a list of habits, a list of projects and maaaaaybe some goals.

One way we turn these projects into goals is if we decide to give it a start date or a completed date. But for the most part, we are working on what we have the time and money for.

I’ve found it a lot more freeing to ‘set direction’ for my days rather than a list of demands I need to reach.

How are finding success with planning your direction?



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