I recently figured out why so many of us have a hard time reaching our goals, whether they’re fitness related or life related.
The reality is that we pursue goals backwards – we set a goal like lose 30 pounds, and every day we pursue that goal, that end point in time (lose 30 pounds) and ignore 99% of the process of getting there.
And what happens?
Not only do we hate every day, because we’re existing in this state of “pre-success failure,” but we don’t enjoy the process at all (which is 99% of life!).
Here’s how to do it right: stack habits.
Habit Stacking 101
The Flaws of Goal Setting
Look at how backwards goal setting often is.
So let’s say that tiny sliver is the end goal.
Everything else in the process you’re saying, “Okay, I don’t care if this sucks, if it’s miserable, or if it’s healthy.”
That tiny bit you are allowing yourself to be happy, and that long piece, you’re allowing yourself to be miserable while going after your goal.
How much sense does that really make?
And in reality, if you hate that much of walking the path to your goal, if you hate that much and you like that tiny sliver – what are the chances you’re actually going to get there?
If each little sliver, little — line there, is a habit, and you hate hate hate hate hate each one, does that sound like something that’s going to work in the long run?
To me, it doesn’t work at all. Which is why I don’t get why we still use traditional goal setting.
Once you make a small mental shift, things become a lot easier.
What if the process = the goal?
What if you made the process of achieving the goal, the actual point of the goal?
What if the process was the game?
What if you did those habits because you liked them by themselves, and not just so that you could get to that 30 pound lost goal?
What would happen instead?
Just indulge me for a second here, with this random thinking exercise.
Imagine if the daily workout was the actual goal, and not the losing of the 30 pounds. What if you enjoyed the process or the high you got from exercise?
What if the daily goal was just to read ten pages of a health book each day?
It’s almost this idea of stacking the cups.
Imagine if each one of these cups was a daily habit.
Each of these cups is a daily habit you do over and over and over.
And the habits gradually stack up on each other, one after another.
Each habit eventually leads to the top of the pyramid which is your goal, the mountaintop, like losing 30 pounds.
But the problem is that we try to go for the top on the cup, without setting the bottom top, 5, 10, 50 or 1000 cups.
So imagine how silly it sounds if someone told you that they wanted to hate all the process, all those habits, all those bottom cups, but wanted to set the top cup.
It’s like trying to build a house without a foundation.
And then, we stack all these habits that we hate, just to magically get to the goal one day over the rainbow.
We hate the work to get there, and then we don’t even enjoy the process, so how likely are we to really get there?
We hate every single cup we’ve stacked (and every day), and then we still think we’re magically going to get to the gold on top of the mountain.
So not only are we miserable, but we’re chasing a false goal since we hate every day, and it ends up being completely backwards.
Your Tiny Habit For Today
Remember this kind of habit stacking process – think of any health or life goal as something revolving around stacking the cups.
What you want is the cup on top, but you have to lay the foundation of the other habit cups below.
So what these really are, are stacking habits repeatedly that build off one another that eventually gets you to the top cup.
And it’s even better and even easier if you like the process of stacking those cups (habits).
So for you, maybe that means making a more enjoyable end goal, or a more enjoyable day-to-day goal/habit process.
That could be a different kind of exercise, it could be a different kind of healthy food, or a smaller and easier habit.
Think carefully about flipping your fundamental goal achievement philosophy, and instead, also try to make sure you enjoy the process of stacking all of those individual cups.
That right there makes up 99% of the work (the daily process) anyway.