by Kate Warren
If you are like me, you thrive when you have a clear goal. But achieving that goal can sometimes feel unsurmountable. One thing I have learned through my own goal setting is that it’s not necessarily the goal itself that should take all your focus, but the small habits and systems we put in place as a result of these goals. These systems and habits are what make us (or break us) when it comes to achieving success, whatever that may look like to us, and getting the most out of life. James Clear discusses this in his book Atomic Habits.
In his book, Clear asks us to step outside traditional goal setting and drill down to the root of how we can affect change in our lives. This means developing fool-proof triggers that build habits. When we implement habits after triggers, such as drinking a glass of water (habit) first thing when we get up (trigger), this will help us achieve our bigger goal of staying healthy. These habits and systems, while they may seem small, add up over time and are what help us achieve our goals. Too often when we set a goal, we look at the big picture, and the goal we set suddenly becomes a massive undertaking that can be overwhelming. As a result of this, and when we do not make tremendous headway after our first few attempts, we get discouraged and give up.
Clear breaks his process down to four simple rules:
Make it Obvious – Write down your daily habits and take note if it is a good, bad, or neutral habit. Be specific about what you want to change. Stack your habits to trigger your new habits, for example, when you change out of your work clothes you put on your gym clothes.
Make it Attractive – Add in a favorite activity to your new habit. This can be listening to an audio book or watching your favorite series while you get outside and walk. This makes the new habit more tempting to perform.
Make it Easy – Design your environment to make your new habits easy to follow through. Take a few minutes the night before to pack a healthy meal. Keep these new habit tasks down to two minutes or less so they do not feel like work. In the end, you will find your day runs smoothly and is less stressful.
Make it Satisfying- Do something that sparks joy immediately after you complete the new habit. Our brains prioritize immediate rewards over long-term rewards. While our good habits may be transforming our futures, our brain only cares about the here and now. One example from my own life is, I am horrible about stretching after I work out and with numerous injuries, this is necessary. After I take 10-15 minutes to stretch after my workout, I not only take stock of how much better I feel, but I also give myself 10-15 minutes to do something fun like play with the dog, read or watch funny videos before I go on to my next task.
So why is this important?
These four simple rules apply to more than just forming habits in your personal life. They also apply to the way MindSpark works with schools and organizations. Often, we help educators, district leaders, and industry solve big challenges within their group, and they can feel very overwhelming. MindSpark’s process is to break these challenges down into steps and processes that affect tangible change and make a sustainable impact over time. For instance, when we are working with an education leader on establishing a positive culture, we may start doing 10-minute check-ins with two educators. Over time this evolves into connecting with all the staff in intentional ways that call back to the small changes they are trying to make, that will lead to the bigger obstacle they are trying to solve for. It is important to start small and practice often.
We wholeheartedly believe in being a little better every day than the day before, and over time this will have a MASSIVE impact.
Here at MindSpark, we pride ourselves on making what seems impossible, possible. We love messy, astronomical problems and we love to upskill educators and organizations with tactics to tackle these issues, change lives and impact the future. We help others see where they can start taking baby steps and building good habits and systems to make a substantial impact. MindSpark disrupts the system to create a more dynamic one, which uplifts all involved. To find out more about how we bring positive change to your school system or organization, please contact us about our Education or Executive Accelerator!