Habits…Goal Maker or Goal Breaker?
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Know what today is? Today is around the date that most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions. If you are one of the masses that started out the year with good intentions and have found yourself falling short, shrug the guilt and extend yourself a little grace.
Feel better? Great! Grace period is over, time to get back at it. Kidding, not kidding. To quote one of my dear friends, there’s a fine line between grace and excuses, Dream Chaser. And no one on their dream chasing, goal getting, best life journey has time for excuses or quitting, so let’s get back at it.
I’m about to let you in on a secret to where the source of your failure may be…and it’s the exact place to take time to evaluate and take corrective action to learn from the failures and move on to success. It’s your habits! Those every day actions you don’t even think about or realize you are doing are your goal breakers or your goal makers.
That dream in your heart…that goal you are going after? Your habits are the key to making them a reality. To use your habits to your advantage as the goal maker, you need to understand the basics of how they work. Here’s a quick basic habit review before we move on:
A common reason we fail in our dream chasing, goal getting journey is we forget about habits, which is easy to do since they automatically happen. We jump into our goals and resolutions, making plans and taking big action. As our enthusiasm wanes and willpower fades, our already established habits kick in, inevitably leading to failure at reaching the goal. Here’s an example: the goal of eating healthier. You get all the vegetables, cut the sugar, throw out the snacks, drink the water. All goes well for a day or two, until you start getting hungry or having a craving for your old comfort snacks. You have a soda here…a few chips there…a little extra cream in the coffee…before you know it, you have circled back to where you started. Sound familiar?
Behavior change is possible when you work with your habits, not against them. Try these strategies to Flip the Script on habits, turning them from the goal breaker to the goal maker:
1. Small Changes = Big Results
Changing too much at one time is a recipe for goal breaking. Modifying your behavior slowly to give yourself time to adjust is less shocking to your brain and more likely to lead to lasting behavior change in the positive direction. We all want a quick fix or magic wand. The truth is it took time for unserving behaviors to point you in a negative direction, and it will take time for positive course correction. These small, seemingly insignificant daily actions compound on each other over time creating big results.
2. Stack Them Up
An easy way to add a new habit into your routine is to use the strategy called habit stacking. Habit stacking is where you add a new behavior with an already established behavior that is also a habit. This helps you remember to do it and makes the new behavior a new habit quicker. An example would be to practice gratitude when your alarm goes off in the morning or drinking a glass of water when you brush your teeth.
3. May the Cycle Be With You
Ready to create a new habit? Make sure to use the 4 pieces of the habit cycle (cue, craving, response, reward); each piece is needed to create a new habit.
4. Practice Makes Permanent
Habits are formed from repetitive behavior. The jury is out on how many repetitions are needed, ranging from 20 to 70 times. Why the range? Like many things, all behaviors are not created equal; easier behaviors and more enjoyable behaviors often become habits quicker. Regardless, you need to practice and be consistent to create a new habit or modify an existing one. Tracking your progress, setting phone reminders, and doing the new behavior at the same time in the same way every day will help.
5. Slam the Door
As mentioned earlier, habits are permanent brain pathways. They do not go away but can become inactive over time when not being triggered. This is the key to long term success…slam the door, twist the lock, and throw away the key on those old, unserving behaviors. Going back, even for a brief interlude, is likely to reactivate and restart that old habit!
As you can imagine, there is a lot that can go into habits. If you would like to dive a little deeper, I highly recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear; it’s one of my favorites! If learning more about the power of the compound effect, the concept of how small behaviors over time makes a huge difference, check out The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson; this was my start into personal growth and development. Let’s upgrade those habits, or develop new self-serving ones, that make getting after our dreams and goals just what we do!
This Girl is on Fire! How to Stoke That Fire in Your Belly to Achieve All Your Dreams
By Jackie White
This is the month where many of us are jazzed up about a new year and new possibilities! Our heads might be swimming with all the dreams we look to achieve this year, but it almost always fizzles out a week or two into January. So, how do we prevent this from happening? We need a new way! Let’s get excited because you can do this!
Girl, you are on fire! Make this your mantra as you go after your dreams this year! The key to achieving your dreams is feeling your dream’s importance before you even begin to take action! I am talking about that fire in your belly that has been smoldering for awhile. You have to stoke those fires!
Let’s talk about what not to do first. There are many goal-getting systems out there and that can get confusing. There is no need to develop the world’s most intricate plan to achieve your dreams. People tend to over-plan and the execution of the plan then becomes overwhelming and the reason why you quit. Spending inordinate amounts of time on planning to go after goals really is knocking you off track before you even start. Let’s do this differently this year and really make our dreams come true!
Begin with Meaning
The starting line of any dream requires you to feel this dream’s importance to you. Get ready to strike the match! When you choose a dream to go after there should be a strong meaning of that dream in your heart. Choose a dream that you feel compelled to achieve. Choose a dream that is like a burning desire. If your dream is someone else’s dream it will feel like a shoe that doesn’t fit. For example, you feel that you are expected to become a dentist just like your father was, but you do not feel strongly about that dream, then that is not your dream and you will feel unfulfilled. Instead, the very thought of your dream should stir a fire in your belly! You should feel excited and maybe a little scared, but you know that this is what you want to do! When you have that type of meaning behind your dream, the dream becomes compelling and you will tend to see it through.
Dream with Passion
When you think of your dream, don’t just think of the end result, think about how you will feel working towards achieving that dream. Visualize yourself going after and achieving your dream. What feelings does that stir up? Get excited! Feel unstoppable! Whoa! Get back, those flames are burning high! Visualizing your dream will keep it alive for you. The very thought of achieving that dream might feel scary, but also enticing and exciting! This is when you know you have hit upon a meaningful direction to take your life. Girl, this is when you feel on fire!
Plan the Attack
Once you feel how important your dream is, you can move on to the planning stage. Again, don’t get bogged down into minute detail. Quite simply, every dream needs a plan and a timeline. To begin choose the top 3 action steps you need to take to move this dream forward.
For each of those steps utilize the following SMART goal framework:
Specific - Identify the specific actions needed to achieve that step
Measurable success - don’t skip this part. You must keep track of your progress.
Achievable - the step should be a stretch that pushes you to choose the habits needed for success.
Realistic: The steps must be something that you can realistically do within the framework of your life.
Time-Bound: For every step give yourself a timeline to work towards
This is the part where people start jumping ship. They don’t put a system into place to check in on their own progress and before they know it, it’s several months down the line and they have forgotten the importance of their dream. It is imperative to check in on your progress because it will keep you on track and honest about the actions you are taking towards your dream. Along with this check-in on your plan, it is important to go back to that compelling vision and feel its call to you. This is also where you get to celebrate your wins! Make sure you do that because this stokes that fire!
One Foot in Front of the Other
Take action! Keep moving forward towards your dream. We lose a lot of people here too because they don’t make their dream a priority. Choose to make time each day to step one step closer to achieving your dreams. Revisit the feeling of why this dream is so important. When you do feel that dream stir again it’s like putting gasoline on that fire! Light it up and keep it burning!
The dreams fueled by emotional ties to your heart coupled with a SMART plan are the ones that you will be able to sustain the best. This year place your intention on stoking that fire in your soul and when you do you will feel the power to achieve all of your dreams! And don’t forget your mantra: “This Girl is on Fire!”
What exactly is power? Let's take a look at the actual definition of power. Power: noun The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Influencing behavior and directing the course of events would be pretty important things to do as you are managing your life, right? So, have you ever considered the power that lies within yourself? Have you ever just “made up your mind” to do something and just did it? What about employing “mind over matter” and suddenly you have decided that you are no longer ticklish. How can that be? Then there are stories of the ages that tell of a character who had “it” within themselves all along:
Dumbo didn’t need a feather to fly
Dorothy: Didn’t need the wicked witch’s shoes to get home
Why is this a common theme and why is it so profound? Because it can’t be that simple, right?
Let’s begin with your mind is more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Your mind is where you house your beliefs and thoughts. As we extrapolate that out through Gandhi’s famous quote, you can see just how powerful your mind can be:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
When we speak of mindset, this is the connection we are referring to. There is an undeniable linkage from what goes on in your brain. Even on the subconscious level, your brain is sending communication to how you behave. The one doesn’t exist without the other.
Think about that for a minute: if what you think drives your behaviors and those behaviors ultimately define your destiny, then it’s time to start thinking about what you are thinking about!
Attention all mindless wanderers, it’s time to start getting intentional about what you are feeding your mind! Are you reading doom and gloom stories put out by the media to sensationalize and put fear into people? Are you reliving a mistake you made in the past and your brain is telling yourself that you are an idiot? What about just going through the motions and no longer caring to think about the impact you are having on yourself or others? Are you clinging to beliefs that do not serve you in a positive manner? If you answered yes to any of these things, then it’s time for a change.
5 Ways to Harness the Power of Your Mind:
All the power you need to propel your dreams into reality is lying dormant within you. Get started today and lay the foundation for a successful new year!
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Remember the double dog dare when you were a kid? You know, the ole “I double dog dare you to…” fill in the blank with a silly elementary school idea. No one ever wanted to back down from a double dog dare, no matter the cost to your physical well-being or level of public embarrassment. The humiliation of backing down was a way bigger deal than the fear to go for it. The double dog dare gave you that push out of your comfort zone, to try something new, take action without overthinking.
I think it’s time to bring the double dog dare back this year, Dream Chaser, but with a SoulShine twist. Let’s be real, the double dog dare of our elementary years was not usually to encourage positive action. Our SoulShine twist will be to keep it in the realm of positivity and possibility…lol.
Why is trying new things so important? Glad you asked! Trying something new is how you stretch your comfort zone, and stretching your comfort zone is how you live the best life you were meant to live. The magic in life happens outside your comfort zone. Those dreams in your heart? Those are dreams because they are not your current reality, to get them you need to grow and stretch. Growing and stretching expands your current comfort zone and opens you up to new possibilities in your life.
So, I’m issuing you a challenge. Are you ready?!? I double dog dare you to try something new. That’s it. Pick something new and try it. It can be small or big…it doesn’t matter. It just has to be new. Here are a few ideas:
-A new approach to an old problem
-A new genre of book you’ve never read or listened to
-A new type of exercise
-A new instrument
-A new craft
-A new mindset
-A new de-stressing activity
-A new hairstyle
It just has to be something new! Guess what the result will be? A confidence boost! You will realize that trying something new and stretching the comfort zone isn’t as scary as we make it out to be. After a few wins in the try something new category, you will have the confidence to keep trying bigger and bigger new things, stretching that comfort zone further and further. Before you know it, you will have achieved that dream in your heart. Know what happens then? A new big, audacious, out-of-the-comfort zone dream will appear. One that is so big and awesome that you will be shocked you not only dreamed it but also know you can achieve it. Here’s the truth, though, that even more awesome dream cannot and will not appear until you are ready, until you have grown and stretched enough to take it on and be able to get it.
That’s the fun thing about this goal getting, dream chasing journey. It keeps going! Pushing you further and further to your very best life. But, sometimes, we just need a little positive peer pressure to stop overthinking and start taking action, getting that momentum going. So, here you go…
Dream Chaser, I double dog dare you to try something new. Do you accept the challenge?
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.