The secret sauce to hitting goals: sticking to sustainable habits over time
When it comes to getting fit, people start out with thoughts like “I want to get into the best shape of my life” and “I should be able to do it by the end of the month”. Whether it is to “get ripped quick” or “get rich quick,” as a society we want results with minimum effort and we want them now. I even remember starting out with this mindset myself, asking my Personal Trainer on the very first day “how long until I see serious results?” It is the same when people are looking at investments, they want to know how quickly it is going to make them “rich”.
Research shows that a focus on speedy outcomes leads to an over focus on a massive action in the here and now. This is unsustainable when we all have jobs, families to support, hobbies to maintain, and temptation to battle. The person who wants to “get ripped quick” can’t sustain their overly strict diet that they hate eating and the person who wants to “get rich quick” ends up investing into something too high risk for them. When they experience serious stock market volatility, they panic, dis-invest and lose money. This short-termism causes people to fail, and they become even more de-motivated than they were before they started.
So, what habit hacks can we instil to create success?
What I’ve realised over the years is that the people who are successful in reaching their goals, whether that is in health, wealth, or both are:
- Not in a rush to achieve things right here and now.
- They set smaller, manageable long-term sustainable habits asking themselves “what can I do now, that in theory, I could keep doing for the rest of my life, no matter what happens?” For example, going for a walk every day or the gym 2 times a week. Or setting up an affordable, monthly contribution into a stocks and shares ISA, that you can continue even on those tough months, when financial issues crop up.
- They prioritise discipline over motivation so that when life inevitably gets in the way and motivation fades, these people still have the discipline to continue with their habits, knowing the long term benefit it will have.
If we get long-term processes in place we will have the comfort in knowing that one day, we will eventually reach our goals. One day, we can be proud of our health and be proud of the element of financial freedom that we have achieved. Success becomes a matter of when, not if.