The Big Idea
It’s not about changing you – it’s becoming the best version of you.
Questions I Answer
- What can I do to actually follow through on my New Years Resolution?
- How do I set better goals?
- What habits do I need to create to achieve my goals?
- How can I be more productive with my habits?
Actions to Take
- Think about one habit that you can start establishing for yourself that will move you closer to one of your bigger goals and get started today. This is just the start and the first step in the season of New Year True You.
Key Topics in the Show
Why New year resolutions don’t work, and what you can do instead
The differences between long-term goals and ongoing goals and how they often intersect
How habits can help us become the best versions of ourselves
4 steps to help you set up good habits for yourself
The 3 Rs for making a plan & helping yourself stick to it
Welcome to season nine of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on using productivity, not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most important to you. Join Tanya has she kicks off the New Year with a special season titled, New Year True You. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.
And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 105. Today’s episode is sponsored by FreshBooks, a cloud based accounting software designed with productivity in mind. FreshBooks is the simplest way to be more productive, get organized, and most importantly get paid. And they’re offering a free trial and I’ll share more about that later on in the episode, but first, let me welcome you to season nine. You may have noticed a brand new intro to the podcast and for those of you who don’t realize, that’s actually my husband John, who introduces the show each and every week and every season he creates a brand new introduction. So you may have noticed he let the cat out of the bag a little bit and shared that this season is called New Year True You, and I am beyond excited because we have a lot of great things in store for you.
Now, did you notice that I said true you not New Year new you. You see at first when my podcasting team was brainstorming ideas with me about the season, we thought New Year New You. It has a nice ring to it, right, it sounds nice, but you know, the more we thought about it, the more we thought this is really not the message we’re going for. We’re not trying to say that you should have a complete makeover and that because it’s a New Year, you should just scrap the old you and become a totally different person. That’s not what we want at all, this season we want you to think about discovering the best version of yourself, the true you, and letting that shine. It’s not about changing the real you or reinventing everything. The true you is about evolving when we need to. Uncovering our strengths and finding some strategies to work through, well, some of her weaknesses.
It’s about tweaking the areas in our lives that we know we can improve on and really pushing ourselves to be our best possible selves because that’s really when we uncover happiness. It’s kind of like that feeling after you get a haircut, you still look like you, but don’t you feel so good? Yeah. I love that feeling and that’s what I want to capture through the course of this season. That feeling of feeling like you look, feel everything is amazing. So are you ready? I am, because looking ahead at this season of New Year True You, we’re going to be covering topics like uncovering your passions. What to do when others aren’t supportive of you, how to get motivated, getting organized in your life and with your finances. How to sleep better, turning your passion into a career. Plus, we have some great guests episodes in store for you, so it’s going to be a fabulous season and I cannot wait.
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So now that I’ve given you a sneak peek into season nine, let’s dive in. I’d like to kick off this season by talking about how you can set ongoing goals to help you improve your life. We’re also going to talk about goals versus habits and how habits can actually be good for helping you achieve your goals. I’ll be sharing some tips on how to establish some of those good habits and how to make a plan so you’ll be incredibly successful. So today’s episode is about becoming the best you and I know that for many of us when we round New Year’s and we begin a new calendar year, we feel that need to make big, lofty New Year’s resolutions. We like to spend time on New Year’s Eve hosting our friends and our family and announcing our big goals and resolutions that we have for the next year and making resolutions. It seems like a good way to start off the New Year. Right?
Well, I’m going to be honest, I am not a huge fan of resolutions. Now I know you might be thinking to yourself, “What? Tanya is always talking about goal setting. How can she not think resolutions are a great way to start your year?” Well, here’s the thing. I think there’s a really big difference in taking the time to set goals and making New Year’s resolutions announcements in front of a group of friends on New Year’s Eve and I think that many times New Year’s resolutions become empty promises that we make just because it’s something we’re supposed to do every single year. Resolutions are usually done without too much planning and over a glass of champagne, which is nice, but goal setting is done with thought and intention, with or without the champagne. You might’ve heard me say this in the past, but according to research done by the University of Scranton, 92% of people don’t achieve their New Year’s goals that they set for themselves.
So only 8% have the momentum and the wherewithal to keep going. And I think this unfortunate truth. Well, it’s due to the fact that when it comes to resolutions, people sometimes make unreasonable goals that can’t truly be attained and sometimes we aim for the stars. It can become so intimidating. We’re afraid even to leave the launchpad, so we ended up failing or being too fearful to even start. So how do we get to that successful 8% of people who are attaining their New Year’s resolutions. Let’s start by breaking down those lofty resolutions into reasonable manageable goals. And when it comes to goals, I think there are basically two kinds, long-term goals and ongoing goals. Now they’re both goals, but they both require different approaches and strategies in order to be successful. So long-term goals might be to run a marathon on Thanksgiving or maybe it’s to start a new business by the end of the year, or maybe it’s tackle a home improvement renovation.
Long-term goals don’t have immediate satisfaction, but they usually have an end date or some sort of time frame associated with them. So in other words, you know the date of the marathon or you put a target date on opening that business. Maybe you set a timeframe for the renovations, but here’s the thing, those long-term goals, things like these don’t happen overnight. It usually takes patience and perseverance to get to that finish line and once you’ve completed them, you sort of finish the goal and then you have to spin off and have another goal. Now, ongoing goals on the other hand really don’t have a deadline or an end date at all. They might be things like a daily or weekly goal that goes on indefinitely. Perhaps it’s you want to drink eight glasses of water every day or maybe stay on top of your day to day finances or get to the gym four days out of the week. Maybe you want to get to work 10 minutes early every day or set aside time for journaling. Long-term and ongoing
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goals are both really important for our lives and actually sometimes they actually intersect and they work together. So let me give you an example. Maybe a long-term goal would be to lose 15 pounds in three months and a few ongoing goals would be to drink the 64 ounces of water each day and to exercise four times a week. The two ongoing goals actually compliment the long-term goal, yet they continue even if you reach that long-term goal at some point, so in three months when I step on the scale and I’m 15 pounds lighter, it doesn’t mean I have to stop drinking the water or to quit exercising. Those continue on. But the great part is that those ongoing goals, that’s what helped me achieve that long-term goal.
So some people might call these ongoing goals habits, which I know you’ve heard me talk about before on the podcast because here’s the thing. Habits tend to have kind of a bad reputation. When I hear the word habits, I know for me it’s like a flashback back to my teenage days and I can still hear my mom yelling at my sister to stop biting her, picking at her fingernails or for my dad to stop taking off his wedding ring and spinning it on the table. Or for me to stop leading my wet towels on the bedroom floor, which ironically is now what I fuss at my own two kids about. Funny how that works, right? Now, by definition, a habit is a routine behavior that’s repeated regularly and it tends to occur subconsciously. So that definition doesn’t have a good or a bad meaning. Yet somehow habits don’t really have a positive connotation.
We tend to think of habits of things like, biting your nails, smoking, drinking soda every day, lunch, cracking your knuckles, leaving the wet towel on the floor. You get the idea, but let’s give habits a break for a minute. We all have good habits too, don’t we? We brush our teeth every morning and hopefully every night too. We take showers, we wash our hair, we change our clothes and put on deodorant before we leave for the day. So not all habits are bad. In fact, habits can actually be very good. Let’s just shift our mindset a bit on habits. A few minutes ago I mentioned an ongoing goal of drinking 64 ounces of water every day. Now you would probably say that’s a positive thing because it’s a healthy goal and goals tend to have a positive connotation to them, but if it’s something that’s repeated day after day, isn’t it really just a habit?
I would say yes, so maybe it means that your ongoing water intake goal is just another way of saying that you’re establishing a good, healthy daily habit and at some point after weeks of repetition, that daily water habit will inherently become something you do subconsciously without having to think about it so much. So I think you could argue that some ongoing goals are actually habits in disguise. I really think habits can be good for us when we’re trying to become the best version of ourselves because good habits like the water intake example, they have a positive outcome for us. So to become the best you, one thing that we can do is to analyze our current habits. Think about the things that we already do on a daily or regular basis and take inventory of all the things you do and write those things down and then think about if they’re good habits or bad habits or somewhere in that middle ground, somewhere in between.
Now, if you’re not sure if a habit is good or bad, try listing out the pros and the cons. Let me give you an example. Maybe you stopped at the local coffee shop every morning. You grab a cup of Joe and a muffin on your way to work. You do it every day. Rain or shine pretty much without fail, so basically it’s a morning habit. Now on
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one hand you might think it’s good because it’s your morning pick me up and it makes you really happy when the guy behind the counter, he knows your name and what you order when you walk in the door. That feels good. On the other hand, maybe that daily Java stop is adding an extra debt to your pocket book and maybe the muffin and the three pumps of sweetener and the whole milk in that coffee maybe aren’t the healthiest choices we can make.
So when you take inventory of your habits, that’s a great time to decide which ones do you want to keep, which ones do you want to drop and which ones you might want to tweak in order to make them better habits. So let’s think about that, that we can tweak our habits. So let’s talk about that idea of the morning coffee. Maybe you don’t want to drop that habit. It was kind of in the middle when you thought about the pros and the cons. A lot of these things might be that way, but if you want to make improvements in your life, you could make some small adjustments to turn that habit into a very positive one. So you could exchange the muffin for a healthier choice like yogurt and granola or an egg white sandwich. Or maybe you could go for one pump of sweetener instead of three or the 2% milk instead of whole. Small incremental changes that will improve that habit to be more good than bad. And hey, maybe with this newly tweaked habit, you could get even further on that long-term goal of losing some weight and being healthier. You never know. So really it’s just a matter of setting up the right habits or making the right choices to get you into that routine of good habits.
We just need to know how to set ourselves up to create these habits for ourselves, and I want to talk about that right after a quick word from today’s sponsor. Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, this has been brought to you by
FreshBooks. Now, you may have noticed I don’t always have a sponsor, and that’s because I’m pretty picky when it comes to who sponsors a podcast. I usually don’t go out looking for sponsors, but I get approached a lot to talk about different people’s products. I only choose sponsorships that I feel are a good fit, so I’m happy to sing the praises of a company like FreshBooks because I love how their software really does boost your productivity. Their cloud based accounting software makes it so much easier to focus on what you really love about your business, instead of chasing down invoices from your clients. With a really simple interface it’s almost like having a personal finance assistant to help you know where to start and you know I love that. Just a few clicks and you get your finances in check. Now, FreshBooks has generously offered a free unrestricted trial for my listeners, just go to FreshBooks.com/paradox and in the section that says, how did you find us? Type in Productivity Paradox.
Okay, let’s get back to talking about setting up good habits because you’ll remember, I’m always telling you to take your goals, break it down into bite size pieces. You’ve heard that from me hundreds and hundreds of times. Well, habits are pretty much like these bite size pieces. There are smaller steps that can help you reach your bigger goals. So now that we’ve established that habits aren’t always bad and can actually be really good for us, let’s talk about how you can create these new habits for yourself. These are the habits that will help you become the best you possible. And I believe there are four steps to help you set up good habits. The first step is to articulate the why. Think about why you want the habit. The why is a very important part of this because that’s what helps drives us. We brush our teeth every
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day. Why? It’s not because we necessarily enjoy it, it’s because we want healthy teeth and fresh breath.
Let’s say maybe we want to start our day feeling energized, so we want to make a habit to get up and go for a brisk 20 minute walk every morning before we hit the shower. Maybe we want to save money for a special trip or pay off debt. So we decided to make a habit to transfer $25 to our savings account every Friday. You need to know what your why is. That’s what keeps you motivated. When you have a reason why you want to set this habit up, that really helps drive that home for you and it makes sure you’re going to continue the habit.
Now, the second step is to identify your cues. Cues really help you establish any habit. This may be a location, a particular time, an emotional state or even other people, may be leaving your gym shoes by the front door. That will be a reminder to go on a daily walk or to jog each morning, perhaps leaving your journal out by your coffee pot each night. That will remind you to spend 10 minutes writing in your journal the next morning while enjoying your morning coffee. Discover what triggers you to want to take the action of the habits that you’re trying to establish, think of them as springboards these cues. What’s going to trigger your mind to remember, Oh yes, I want to do this habit. It’s going to take some time, so having these cues really helps remind you to do it.
The third step is to define the behavior. Identify exactly what you will do for this habit. What actions have to come into play in order for you to follow through on things, so when we’re defining the habit for maybe that daily morning walk, think about some of the details. Will you walk along the same path every day or will you choose a different route? Will you walk alone or with a friend? Are you going to be listening to music or listening to the sounds of nature? Decide what you will do, what qualifies as doing this habit, but don’t forget to also think the obstacles or the stumbling blocks that might prevent you from pursuing this new habit. Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before calls these things loopholes and she says, when we try to form and keep habits, we often search for these loopholes for justifications that excuse us from this particular habit in this particular situation. We find these excuses for ourselves, but if you can identify the possible loopholes or the excuses ahead of time, you can make a plan to reject those loopholes and plan around them.
This is that idea of the pivot that we talked about at the end of the last season. We want to think ahead to what could possibly be in our path so we can avoid it. So for example, for that morning walk that we’ve talked about, what’s your plan if it’s cold or if it’s raining outside, what’s your plan if you just don’t feel up to it for the day, make a plan B so you can reject any excuses or obstacles that’s going to help ensure your success.
The fourth step is to make a plan. You know I’m big on making a plan, right? So to stay on track with a new habit or the behavior that you’re establishing, try using the three R’s, record, reward, and redirect. For record, what I mean by this is find a way to track your progress. This is one of the reasons why we have habit trackers in my planners because I really think it helps to keep yourself accountable and allow yourself to see the breadcrumbs of how you’re doing on your journey.
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So taking the time to record it allows you to actually see that you’re moving forward. Reward is give yourself a small rewards when you hit certain milestones, that gives you a little carrot to work towards and it gets you motivated. Now the reward should be something to springboard you forward until the habit is set, not something that sets you back. So let’s say it’s you want to go running every morning, you’re not going to reward yourself with a giant piece of chocolate cake. Think about something that works with the habit you’re trying to establish and we don’t have to reward ourselves forever. The beautiful thing about rewards is it helps us in the short term and the long-term, we can eventually get rid of the rewards. And that third R is redirect. When you come across obstacles or excuses that are keeping you from progressing, think about redirecting yourself, figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
And sometimes if something’s not working, it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to change and to shift what you want that habit to be. It’s not a fail, it’s a pivot. So keep that in mind. It’s okay to adjust your path whenever you need to in order to keep yourself moving forward. So let me go through those four steps with you one more time. First one, articulate the why. Second one is identify your Qs then define your behavior, and then the fourth one is to make a plan. Using that record, reward and redirect that I talked about. Now you may have heard that it sometimes takes 21 days to establish a habit, but I’m going to be honest with you, that’s not really accurate. At a study carried out by the university college Long, they found that on average it takes about 66 days for participants to form a habit.
It’s different for everyone, so 66 days is the sweet spot. Some people it takes longer, some shorter. So I just want to encourage you to do this. Be patient with yourself, be patient, when you try to form these new habits, it takes work to become the best you. So give yourself some time and some much needed grace as you work to cultivate these ongoing goals. If you want to become the best you, you have to be kind to yourself throughout the process. I promise you though, this process will be worth it.
So I want to encourage you to think about what is one habit today that you can start establishing for yourself that will move you closer to one of your bigger goals and I want to encourage you to get started today. Figure that out, and then use those four steps we talked about. And this is just the start. This is just the first step in the season of New Year True You. Next week we’re going to be talking about the art of knowing what you want and in the meantime I would love to see you in my Facebook group. It’s an amazing place on the Internet full of support and encouragement as we work towards becoming the very best version of ourselves. To request an invite to join, just go to inkWELLpress.com/group, and until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.