Build New Habits to Insure You Meet Your Goals

The problem with goals is that most of them are too big, and they take a long time, and that requires work.  That’s also what makes them worthwhile!  But on a day-to-day basis, you need to figure out how to build the habits that will eventually get you to your goals.

Charles Duhigg wrote a great book on how to break bad habits and build better ones – The Power of Habit.  Here is his flow chart for building habits (click on the image to see it full-size):

 HowtoChangeaHabit

> If your goal is to lose weight, you need to change your eating (input) and exercise (output) habits.

> If your goal is to write a book, you need to change your writing habits.

Austin Kleon wrote a great post on breaking goals down into habits. He says to do something small, every day:

Figure out what your little daily chunk of work is, and every day, no matter what, make sure it gets done.

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. We’re all busy, but we all get 24 hours a day. People often ask me, “How do you find the time for the work?” And I answer, “I look for it.” You find time the same place you find spare change: in the nooks and crannies. You find it in the cracks between the big stuff—your commute, your lunch break, the few hours after your kids go to bed. You might have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show, you might have to miss an hour of sleep, but you can find the time to work if you look for it.

What I usually recommend: get up early. Get up early and work for a couple hours on the thing you really care about. When you’re done, go about your day…

Do the work every day. Fill the boxes on your calendar. Don’t break the chain.

This approach works pretty well for most of our personal goals.  But what if our goal is to make our organizations more innovative?

That’s a bit trickier.  The main reason is that innovation is a lot more complex.  Complex systems are trickier because they require us to approach our goals indirectly.  This excerpt from John Kay’s terrific book Obliquity outlines the issue:

If you want to go in one direction, the best route may involve going in the other. Paradoxical as it sounds, goals are more likely to be achieved when pursued indirectly. So the most profitable companies are not the most profit-oriented, and the happiest people are not those who make happiness their main aim. The name of this idea? Obliquity.

Obliquity is relevant whenever complex systems evolve in an uncertain environment, and whenever the effect of our actions depends on the ways in which others respond to them.

Innovation is another thing that we need to approach obliquely.  So what habits should we build to help?  Here are some ideas that I’ve run across in the past couple of days:

  • Take care of yourself.  Jason Cohen points out that we are happier and more productive when we get enough sleep, exercise, and take time to think.
  • Practice divergent thinking. It’s a mistake to jump straight to solutions when we’re trying to innovate.  First, we have to explore a broad range of ideas.  Olaf Kowalik writes about how to use divergent thinking to do this – and this is a key innovation skill.
  • Read widely. Jorge Barba makes an important point at the end of his post recommending some innovation books to read:
    One more thing: everything is connected in some way, so read about anything and everything. Not just books that have “innovation” in the title.

To innovate, you need the process, but you also need to muddle your way through a bit.  So some of the habits you need to build are oblique – like getting enough sleep.  Others are more direct, like blocking out time for thinking and allocating resources for building your ideas.

The main point is that things that are worth doing take effort over an extended period of time.

You need to build habits that will ensure that you make that effort.

Read more from Tim here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle

Tim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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