Habits versus goals

Create Your Own Sunshine, photo credit Kirsten Akens May 2015

Ever since chatting with Gretchen Rubin, and reading her new book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I've been thinking differently about habits and goals.

I'm in the second year of my Birthday Lists, and when I constructed my "41 Before 42" list, I decided to remove items that I wanted to be habits in my life, instead of one-time/first-time experiences or activities. So behaviors like "meditate/yoga every day" and "blog a certain number of times a week" are now on a habit list I'll post below in a bit.

The reason for this, as Gretchen says, is that individual goals are meant to have start and stop times. For example, last summer I wanted to climb Pikes Peak. I had a starting point. I researched. I trained. I hiked Pikes Peak. I celebrated. I stopped (aka crashed on the couch). Even though I do want to keep hiking as a regular activity in my life, I summited (ha) that particular goal.

Habits, on the other hand, are behaviors we want to follow indefinitely.




(Always place my keys in the same spot so I stop an unnecessary hunting process each morning.)

Think of habits as behaviors that we want to start, and assuming they are beneficial to our lives, not ever stop.

Habits: commit and do.

Or in other, more famous, words ...

It's worth noting if your habits are not working for you (or you try to instill a new habit into your life and it doesn't take), it's a good idea to spend some time reflecting on why. A certain habit may not actually be beneficial to your life, as I found with making the bed. Or you may need to reframe the habit based on your particular tendency. Or you may need to set up strategies to help you.

Strategies like accountability — which my tendency needs and which I'm going to accomplish by posting for you all the list of new habits I'm cultivating these days. I'll report back on how I'm doing at some point in the future ... (notice I did not give you an end date).


  • Walk Lucy, daily (unless one of us is honest-to-goodness sick, or it's pouring down rain, snowing or icy).
  • Meditate, daily.
  • Review finances, daily.
  • Blog three times a week.
  • Say yes, and thank you, when someone offers help. (Thanks for the suggestion, Judith.)

Let me know in the comments what habits you're looking to add or remove from your life. And, since you're helping me, how I can help you.