You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘the journey is more important than the destination’ before. But it’s not just an old saying.
It’s an insight into how focusing on our habits rather than our outcomes can help us lead happier lives.
“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits — practical, emotional, and intellectual — systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be,” William James once observed.
There are three parts to every habit: a cue or trigger that tells your brain to do a specific behaviour, a routine that you do to satisfy that craving, and then a reward.
When your brain starts to crave something, it sends out signals which can be challenging to ignore.
The vital question to ask yourself every month or quarter is: are all my positive routines, habits and daily behaviours still serving me?
I’m I improving, making progress or getting the results I need?
Kristi Ling Spencer says, “Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Does this support the life I’m trying to create?”
Habits can be difficult to change because they are ingrained into who we are as people. We react automatically to cues without thinking about them first.
But when you are conscious about specific actions and their impact on your life, you are likely to improve, upgrade or change them.
It can be easy to get caught up in our habits and not realize how much they impact our lives. But if we don’t know what we’re doing, we can’t change it.
You are likely to improve what you measure.
“Results live beyond goals,” Richie Norton said. If you are not happy with your present outcome, change what you do daily.
A better understanding of your current habits is a significant stepping stone before any change occurs. That’s why measuring habits is more important than measuring outcomes.
Measuring the processes that deliver the outcomes we want is a better approach to change.
Whether weight, exercise, or a work habit, you can easily improve what’s not working if you know actions that deliver results.
A simple way to do that is to delve deeper into each process, ritual, routine or behaviour and how they affect your outcomes.
“What you measure is what you get”
“If you are not consciously building your habits, they are unconsciously building you.” ― Anika J. Green
If you want to achieve desired outcomes, start by measuring the right things.
Whether it’s weight loss or job performance, if you measure your habits instead of your outcomes, you’ll be able to identify where to improve your process and reach your goals.
As a society obsessed with success, it’s easy to get caught up in measuring outcomes and forgetting about the journey.
We should be measuring our habits because that leads to the desired outcome. You can measure your habits, and you can measure your outcomes. But here’s the thing — they’re not the same thing.
But when it comes to habits, it’s really about measuring your progress on each day — or even each hour — of practice.
I call it “habit tracking”, and it’s a difference-maker for anyone trying to make a change in their life.
So how does it work?
First, you identify the habit you’re working on — something like making healthier food choices — then rate yourself each day based on how often you did it (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%).
That way, at the end of the week or month or year or lifetime (whatever timeframe is appropriate), you’ll know exactly how consistently you’ve been practicing it.
And most importantly, whether the habits help you make progress.
It’s important to know what habits are helping you achieve your goals and which ones are hurting you to make changes accordingly.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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