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Forget Your Goals. Focus On Building Habits Instead

Building a business while working 9-5 has a couple of unique challenges. In most cases, time is limited (hello night owls!). And if you’re like me, money and uncertainty are on that same list as well.

If you think Hey, that’s me! then I’ve got good news for you. In my own journey to becoming an entrepreneur, I found out that you can tackle all these challenges with ONE single action.

Habits.

Yes that’s right. Building habits opened a whole new world for me. The result: much more fun, confidence and being able to enjoy my entrepreneurial journey.

Hustling vs. Habits

There has been one book that has helped me to understand why building habits is essential to reach my entrepreneurial goals. This book is Atomic Habits by James Clear. If you have been following me you might have noticed that I’ve referenced this book more often. This is because I absolutely love the content of this book.

James’ philosophy is that once we do something small every single day, it will become a habit. By building habits, at some point the habit becomes something that we can do on automatic pilot.

An example:

You have agreed with yourself that you want to publish a book. To get to this goal you have a to-do list that you are hustling through every weekend after a long workweek. Every weekend, instead of relaxing, you decide to ‘man up’ to ‘get shit done’.

Although this might work, it does require tons of energy. And it will often lead to ‘delayed happiness’ (“When I reach goal X, then I’ll be happy..”).

The alternative is to reprogram yourself and build ‘writing’ habits into your daily life. In other words, building a ‘writing system’. A daily ritual that makes writing as easy as brushing your teeth.

By building habits and creating a system around writing, you will notice that hitting your goals isn’t so difficult. And that it doesn’t have to be such a draining process. Instead, your entrepreneurial journey will be much more fun.

The Power of Identity-Based Habits

We often focus on the end goal. WRITE that book. RUN that marathon. BUILD that business.

The result: short-term excitement, and then.. frustration and lack of motivation (Hello New Years’ resolutions!).

An alternative is to start building identity-based habits. Check out the difference:⁠
WRITE that book becomes.. become a writer ⁠
RUN that marathon becomes.. become a runner ⁠
BUILD that business becomes.. become an entrepreneur⁠

The great thing about this new goal: you can become a writer simply by.. wait for it.. writing! ⁠Even if it’s just 5 minutes per day.

By doing this for a couple of months, you’ll start to identify yourself as a writer (66 days to be scientifically correct). And before you know it, your book is finished while writing on autopilot.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”⁠
― Aristotle

Building Habits That Pay Off

First, decide on the habits that you wish to implement. For example, if your goal is to build your own consulting business on the side you could go with these 3 habits:

  • Do marketing & sales
  • Help clients to get results
  • Stay healthy and grateful

Next, pick ONE tiny habit that you can do every day with minimum effort, such as:

  • Send one LinkedIn message every day to a potential client
  • Write 100 words every day for your new book
  • Record a 1-minute video every day for your new YouTube channel

Finally, pick a specific time and place (very important) in which you will carry out this task. For example: After my morning coffee, I’ll write for 5 minutes on my laptop at the dinner table.

Building Habits
Here's how I keep track of my habits

The power here is in consistency. Building habits is all about simplicity and making it so easy that it’s almost impossible not to do it.

Remember to celebrate these ‘wins’. This will eventually help strengthen the process of building your habits. This is because our brains work with a reward system. If we do something that makes us feel happy, or if we celebrate a task that is completed, our brain will create a cocktail of happy hormones. Happy hormones that make you feel good.

“One Tiny Habit Per Day Keeps The Overwhelm Away.”⁠
― Unknown

If you just focus on that one thing that you can do, every single day, then leave the end-goal out of sight for a while. You will get there, by consistently doing the tasks needed to reach the finish line.

Remember: the goal is to identify yourself as a writer by writing (as an example), not to publish the book itself. That will happen naturally over time as long as you keep your habit in place.

It won’t be easy, but it’s well worth it. Your future self and your business will thank you for it.

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