Habits over goals


We are now in 2018 and I firstly want to say Happy New Year and 明けましておめでとうございます (明けおめ for short) to everyone who reads the blog!

Being the start of the year it is often the time of New Years’ Resolutions (新年の抱負・しんねんのほうふ). I’ve written a bit about working on your language goals previously but wanted to expand on a very important point.

Focus on creating new habits rather than the goals themselves

Goals are great things to have, but they need to be supported by establishing the right habits which help achieve them.

What is the difference between goals and habits?

Goals have an endpoint and solely rely on willpower to achieve. Just by setting goals, you can feel a false sense of completion which can be dangerous.

Habits, on the other hand, are easier to complete as they are less complex. Normally it takes 30 days for an action to become a habit – after this point, they become even easier to stick to.

For example, if your goal is to complete a 5km run (and you do not run at all currently), your initial focus should be on making time to run 2-3 times a week. If your goal is to pass the JLPT N5 in December, then focus on studying Japanese for 30 mins a day (see my post on getting your language 5-a-day for ideas!)

Focusing on habits means that there is a possibility we exceed our goals. We might end up running 10km instead of 5km or we might be ready for JLPT N4 instead of JLPT N5 by the end of the year.

The key is to make the habit as simple as possible. If you were to set the task of reading one page of a Japanese book every day, you would probably find yourself reading more than this when you have the time because (hopefully) you really enjoy the book you are reading! Whether you meet or exceed your task for the day, this sense of achievement helps you stay motivated towards your end goal.

I’ll leave you with a quote from philosopher Will Durant which sums up the point of this post:


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