Learning to Learn: Developing Habits and Prioritizing Actions over Results

At the beginning of this month, I decided that I was going to take a different approach to New Years Resolutions. After much consideration, it simply started to make more sense to plan on taking specific actions that would lead to achieving objectives, rather than to plan open-endedly on reaching vague goals.

I read up on things like how long it takes to form a habit, and the importance of going through this process in order to change behaviors. Planning on making changes and accomplishing goals is great, but ultimately, it’s all about what we are going to do to make things happen. With that in mind, here are some tips on adapting habits, behaviors, and actions that will help you more efficiently reach your goals.

Start Small

Taking one small action every day sounds much less significant than it actually is. However, according to the aforementioned study, if one consciously sets aside time to perform one small action each day, this action will eventually become second nature. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator three times one week, four times the next, and all five days of the following week. Eventually, your body will be trained to go right for the stairs without even considering hitting that elevator button.

Think short-term

Big goals can be scary and intimidating, especially at work. Instead of allowing yourself to be intimidated by large numbers and expectations, try to break them down into shorter time periods. This will not only result in more attainable goals, but will also allow you to climb to your desired outcome day by day in a less stressful environment. For example, instead of having to host three events this quarter with 100 attendees altogether, think about hosting one event each month with 33 attendees.

Link behaviors with events

Telling yourself that you’re going to do something is easy. Actually doing it is the hard part (sensing a theme here?). Instead of saying, “I’m going to make sure to answer 15 emails per day,” try “each morning when I get to work, I’m going to make my coffee and then answer 15 emails.” Associating an action with an event will help your brain cells trigger a memory to perform said action when this event occurs, eventually turning it into a habit – a task that’s performed without a conscious effort.

Make it easy for yourself

One of my favorite comedians, John Mulaney, once wisely said, “it is literally 100% easier to not do things than to do them.” When considering the actions that you want to see yourself taking every day, think about any possible excuses you may come up with not do follow through. If it’s because you get too distracted by the giant blowup dinosaur in your office, maybe it’s time to take him home and leave him there. If it’s because your running shoes are too far away from your bed in the morning, put them right there on the ground. Leave no room for excuses, and you’ll be more likely to perform.

How about you? How do you ensure that you take actions to make your intended outcomes realities?

About Ally Greer

Ally is Scoop.it's Director of Content & Community. She loves to geek out over anything social, Internet, or tech related. When she isn't working, you'll probably find her running the streets of San Francisco. Follow Ally on Twitter @allygreer.
  • http://www.ADDandSoMuchMore.com/ Madelyn Griffith-Haynie

    Hi Ally – this page is one of the few linked as Related Content ’round the ‘net at the bottom of “Goals Drive Habit Formation” – the latest post in my Habit Series on ADDandSoMuchMore dot com.

    Check it out – I’d love to know what you think. (my Habit Series articles post on Wednesdays, btw – if you want to get a kind of tag-team mini blog-tour workin’)
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    - ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder -
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”