How to achieve your goals using dynamic habits

Think about the last time you tried to incorporate a new habit into your life. Did you succeed? Do you still have that habit in your daily life?

Think about the last time you tried to incorporate a new habit into your life. Did you succeed? Do you still have that habit in your daily life?

If not, there’s probably a reason for that - and it could be as simple as changing the way you think about habits.

When you’re thinking about starting a new habit, learning to play guitar for example, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first to really make it stick.

Do I really want to have this habit? 

We often try to add habits into our lives that we believe we should have, rather than ones we actually want to have. 

Many people aspire to go to the gym more often, or learn a foreign language, because that’s what they believe is a worthy goal. But if you don’t like working out, or you don’t particularly care about learning a language, it’s unlikely you’ll keep this up for very long.

Does this habit align with my values?

Author and expert in behavioural science, James Clear, explains that for a habit to stick, it needs to align with your values and who you really are as a person. 

If you value your health, attending the gym regularly might be an easier habit to start, but if you value rest more, this might not be the way to go.

As your values change, so will your habits. Some habits you currently have might not align with who you are now so it’s important to evaluate these regularly.

How can I start small with this habit?

A key thing to remember when beginning a new habit is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Doing one small thing every day will etch into your mind that your habit is realistic, possible, and sustainable.

If your new habit is to be more active, you can’t expect that you will be able to get up and go for a run every single day if it’s something you haven’t done before. Start small - get up from your desk every few hours and do a lap of your office. 

What happens if I miss a day of my habit?

This is where dynamic habits are really valuable. 

There’s been a lot of research into how habits are formed, and the consensus is that habits require discipline and consistency. However, thinking of your habits as dynamic gives you more freedom and flexibility without the self-criticism.

If you view habits as rigid, when you miss one day of taking action on your habit because you’re tired or busy, you’re more likely to give up on it altogether. With dynamic habits, if you miss one day, that’s fine, you can try again tomorrow. James Clear summarises this concept well when he says,

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

Even if you miss a few days a month, your successes will outweigh your setbacks and you’ll be well on your way to ingraining your new habit.

How can I get started?

  • Evaluate your current habits - do they all align with how you see yourself as a person? 
  • Think about who you are and what’s important to you, then build your new habit around that. 
  • Do one small thing every day that helps you maintain your habit.
  • If you miss a day, remember that you get another vote tomorrow.

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