Why I’m focusing on habits instead of goals

How to focus on habits instead of big goals by Valerie Woerner | Val Marie PaperRecently, I shared in my Monthly Peptalk that I had been approaching my goals a little differently for the last 6 months of the year and asked if y’all would like to hear more about it! The answer was a clear YES so you’re about to see into one of the most prompt-loving parts of my life besides my prayer journal… my planner. 

I’ve been trying something new with my goals for the last six months of 2019. Instead of prioritizing big goals, I’m prioritizing daily habits. Although I may have some bigger goals, they haven’t been the driving force. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so caught up in making a big goal happen that I ignore daily habits. I’ll even rush to haphazardly make something happen to achieve the goal when really, I’m not learning the steady, consistent rhythm that will make for the long term results that I’m hoping the goal will actually lead to. Anyone else do that?  

I think it’s because hitting a big goal is more fun than the daily mundane work leading up to it. The small things don’t seem to have a huge effect at first, but really it’s the compounding of these habits that leads to consistent transformation and not just a quick win. I know that in my mind but have still focused on the big goals thinking they will push me further along in the least amount of time.

How to focus on habits instead of big goals by Valerie Woerner | Val Marie Paper

So here it is. My one overarching goal for the remainder of 2019 is:

Get consistent with the habits and routines that, when compounded, have the power to change my life through
1) automation and a planning routine that requires less effort and
2) disciplined follow-through based on the belief I CAN change. 

So many times I have ideas in my head but don’t get a solid system out on paper. I have talked ad nauseam 🙄 about NOT putting our minds on autopilot when it comes to taking in negative thoughts and letting them determine our emotions (see Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday), but in order to have that mental space and energy, other things ARE going to have to be on autopilot. Having a smooth rhythm or automated plan for habits I want to practice is something I want to learn and be able to keep up with easily. So that’s part one. 

2020 Yearly Prayer Journal 

FIND FOCUS. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS. EXPERIENCE GOD.

No more waiting! It's in the shop now!

The second part? I realized I can have a solid plan that’s almost on autopilot, but if I’m not disciplined to follow through when the temptation to veer comes, I’ll choose things that don’t serve me simply because it’s the easy path. 

Here’s a list of the 10 habits I’m hoping to create:
1. Drink enough water
2. Eat enough protein
3. Work out consistently 3 times a week
4. Dig into the Word daily
5. Pray a page in my prayer journal every day
6. Be in bed by 9 PM
7. Spend 4 days a week off social media
8. Update finances weekly
9. Have a daily cleaning routine that allows for margin
10. Have “think time” every day (i.e. affirmations, morning pages or examen prayer)

These seem pretty basic, no? Each month I’ve picked a small goal to help me acknowledge why it’s a struggle to do this consistently, work to eliminate the obstacles and put things in place that make it easier to do. 

EXAMPLE OF MONTHLY GOAL FOR THE DAILY HABIT

Like for drinking enough water, one month my goal was to figure out checkpoints in my day for how much I should have drunk by that point. I began to notice that I did pretty good up until the early afternoon. So next month, my goal was to make a habit of a warm lemon water first thing in the morning and iced lemon water right after school. To accomplish this, I work backward to make it an easy habit. I put a mug of water, lemon and knife next to my supplements which I already set out before bed and I also started making a tall glass of iced lemon water when I grab my black cherry Waterloo from the fridge as I head out to carline. Usually I stop drinking in the afternoons because I’m done with my sparkling water and we’re doing so many other things around the house that I keep putting it off, but when I walk into the house after school pick-up and have a glass ready, I’m likely to drink it and even refill it before the night ends!

To some, this might be major overkill, but the truth is I can do a lot of BIG good things for my body, but I know that solidifying this simple habit of drinking enough water will have a lifetime of benefits.

How to focus on habits instead of big goals by Valerie Woerner | Val Marie PaperHOW I AUTOMATE IN MY PLANNER

To help me with the automation aspect, I’ve created a little system in my planner that I’ve only shown a handful of people because I think some of you will think I’m crazy 😉 , but it has really helped! If you’re the type who needs it in your planner so it gets done, you might try this!

I use the Full Focus Planner from Michael Hyatt but you can use whatever you have. I do love this one even though it’s pretty pricey since they only last the quarter, but they are super thorough without being gigantic for the full year. And if there’s anything our Yearly Prayer Journal has taught me, it’s that a product that helps you do what you’re hoping it will do is worth waaaaay more than a cheaper version that won’t get the job done. I’ll be sharing on Insta-stories soon a closer look at how I use the different sections so follow along here!

If you order, use this link for $10 off the Full Focus Planner! They actually just came out with an oatmeal linen and I got my first one and cannot wait to start using in October! If you love VMP’s simplicity and quality of products, you’ll LOVE the Full Focus Planner!

For each day, there is a two-page spread with space to write your top three most important tasks, hourly schedule, other tasks and a second page for notes. 

On the space under other tasks, I write out some of the habits that require choices each day.
QT:
Prayer:
Chore:
Workout:
Social:

I also include a few extras that help me make fewer decisions, like what I’ll read or listen to that day (so I limit myself!) and what’s for dinner. 

Daily Habits, Full Focus Planner

At the beginning of the week (technically every Friday before I plan out the following week!), I add these categories to set me up and fill in the things I know are the same each week. I’ve created a prayer plan of one page in my prayer journal each day M-F so that’s easy. Monday – World, Nat, Comm. Tuesday – My Loves and My Family and so on. Same for chores. I have a plan for that so I know what goes on Monday and each day before the week starts. The other categories that change from week to week,  I may plan ahead of time or leave blank till the day before, but I try to fill out as much as I can. 

On the notes side, I add a few short words for habits I’m trying to develop that DON’T require a choice. For me, this looks like
5 – to wake up at 5 and not hit snooze
9 – to be in bed by 9
H20 – drink lots of water
PT – do PT exercises to keep my neck and back feeling good
Prep – to prep things at night so our mornings run smoothly
Think – having time and space to think 

A few extras not directly related to my 10 habits but that still help me make good choices:
Read – to help me prioritize reading with the girls
Available – making sure my phone is away and I’m 100% available to the girls for at least 1 full hour a day
Phone – keep under my phone use limit 

Daily Habits, Full Focus Planner

INTERESTING LESSON ABOUT AUTOPILOT

I’ve learned something interesting by putting this process into place. As my habits started to go on autopilot, I started to feel like it was a bit mundane to think of doing the same things over and over again. But then, as I was spending less energy doing these things, I felt like I had more time to worship and enjoy God’s presence in the midst of it all. I know that sounds silly. I mean, I don’t want to assume I CAN’T worship God unless I have a good routine, but I did notice the extra space in my mind to naturally flow into praise. Spending time with the Lord throughout my daily routine keeps it from becoming a rut.

So, there you have it!! After three months, I’m definitely more consistent with these habits than in the past and have enjoyed having these important things visible each day!

To see more about how I use my Full Focus Planner, check out the highlight on my Instagram called PLANNER.

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