small habits big results

Nov 8, 2023 | Leadership

Small Habits, Big Results: How Positive Habits Help Achieve Your Goals

Written by Dan Grisoni

When was the last time you went on a trip to reach a beautiful and distant destination? Goals are a lot like that destination – they give us direction and purpose in life. Setting clear goals is like marking our destination on the map; it helps us understand where we’re headed. But it’s not just about the destination; it’s also about the journey getting there. You can’t just wish your way to that picturesque spot; you need to take steps, follow a path, and make it happen.

That’s where habits come into play. Think of them as the GPS that keeps you on track. These small daily actions are things we do on a regular basis, leading us closer to our goals. Whether it’s a habit of consistent exercise for a fitness goal or continuous savings for a dream vacation, they create a rhythm in our lives, making our progress steady.

But how exactly do we set clear goals and weave the right habits into our routine? That’s for us to find out in this blog.

Why Habits Matter

Habits are those little routines that shape our daily lives, and can sometimes feel like they have a mind of their own. They’re like our body’s autopilot mode, consisting of actions set up by our brain to make our lives more efficient – from brushing our teeth to grabbing that cup of coffee in the morning.

Habits free up our mental space to make it easier to navigate each day. However, not all habits are created equal — some propel us forward, while others can hold us back. But essentially, the science of forming habits all starts in our brains.

When we repeat an action, like checking our phone first thing in the morning, our brain creates a neural pathway — a shortcut that makes it easier to do that same action next time. This process involves a reward system where our brain releases feel-good chemicals when the habit is completed. That’s why checking our phone becomes an automatic response — our brain craves that little burst of happiness.

Breaking Bad Habits

But the tricky part comes with breaking bad habits, especially since our brains are wired to resist change. When we try to quit a bad habit, our brain doesn’t immediately accept this change; that’s why it can feel like a mental tug-of-war. You might have experienced this when trying to give up junk food or outgrowing procrastination. Although it’s difficult at first, overcoming bad habits is not impossible.

The key to breaking free from the clutches of bad habits is to rewire your brain. Start by identifying the triggers that lead to your negative habits, and then find a healthy alternative that still offers a reward. It takes time and effort, but our brain is incredibly adaptable.

Turning bad habits into good ones requires a strategic approach. It’s like teaching our brain a new dance move. We’ll need patience and consistency. Begin with small, achievable changes, be kind to yourself when you slip up and reward yourself for successfully implementing the new habit.

Over time, your brain will strengthen the new neural pathways, making the positive habit your go-to response. It’s all about training your brain to crave the good stuff as much as it desires the bad. So, be persistent, and remember, your brain is your ally in this habit-changing journey.

The Connection Between Habits and Goals

Connection Between Habits and Goals

Habits and goals are like two best friends who go hand in hand on life’s journey. They have a profound and intricate connection that can make or break your path to success. Let’s unpack how these buddies influence each other and why understanding this relationship is the key to achieving your aspirations.

First, think of goals as the destinations on your life’s roadmap. They provide direction and purpose, whether aiming for a healthier lifestyle, professional success, or personal growth. Goals give you a target to aim for and a vision of where you want to be.

Habits, on the other hand, are the vehicles that help you reach those destinations. They’re the daily routines, actions, and behaviours that shape your life. Just like a car takes you from point A to point B, habits carry you from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.

So, the magic happens in the interplay between these two. Habits are the means to your goals. They create the consistent and structured approach needed to make progress. For instance, if your goal is to write a novel, the habit of writing for an hour every morning is your trusty vehicle to get there.

On the flip side, your goals can also shape your habits. They act as a powerful motivator, providing a clear purpose for your daily actions. When you know why you’re doing something, turning it into a habit becomes easier. Your goal-driven habits are like trusty guides that move you closer to your choices and priorities.

However, this friendship is not always sunshine and rainbows. If your habits don’t align with your goals, achieving those dreams becomes an uphill battle. Let’s say you want to save money for a dream vacation, but your habit is dining out every night. There’s a clear clash here, and it hinders your progress.

So, to make this dynamic duo work in your favour, it’s essential to choose and nurture habits that support your goals. Start small, make gradual changes, and stay committed. By understanding the intricate connection between habits and goals, you can transform your everyday routines into powerful tools that lead you to the life you’ve always envisioned.

The Role of Consistency

Consistency is the key to tying your habit formation and goal-setting strategies altogether. Think of it like this: if you’re learning to play the guitar, strumming those strings aimlessly won’t turn you into a rockstar. You need to practice regularly, ideally every day, to build those skills and make it a habit. The same principle applies to any goal, whether perfecting an exam, getting fit, or mastering a new language.

Consistency is crucial because our brains love patterns, and when you do something repeatedly, it becomes ingrained in your neural pathways. It’s like creating a well-worn path in a forest; the more you tread it, the easier it gets to follow. Consistency solidifies the habit loop, making it almost automatic and easier to stick to our goals in the long run.

How To Build Goal-Supporting Habits


Effective goal-setting isn’t about perfection; it’s about enjoying every step of your progress. So, to help you stay true to your goals in the long run, here are some effective ways to build positive habits.

Start Small, Aim High

When it comes to achieving your goals, it’s easy to be intimidated by the magnitude of the journey ahead. That’s where breaking down your big dreams into smaller, more achievable tasks comes to the rescue – it transforms your goals from distant mountains into easy-to-follow paths.

These smaller steps provide a sense of direction and accomplishment that fuels your motivation. As you complete these manageable tasks, your confidence soars, making you more likely to stick to your positive habits. Start small, celebrate those mini-wins, and watch how these habits set you on a fulfilling path toward your grandest aspirations.

Specificity is Key

When you’re crystal clear about what you want to achieve each day, your chances of success skyrocket. Take the “I want to get healthier” goal, for instance. It’s admirable, but it’s also vague. However, when you specify that you’ll “exercise for 30 minutes every day,” you’ve given your goal a clear shape.

Why does this matter? Because clarity breeds commitment. When your goal is specific, it’s like a contract you’ve made with yourself. There’s no room for ambiguity, and you’re far more likely to follow through because you’ve set a concrete target. It’s like putting your goals into focus and watching them come to life one specific step at a time.

Be Consistent

As I’ve mentioned earlier, consistency is your best friend in this journey. When you commit to your new habit daily or regularly, you’re essentially engraving it into your routine. It’s not about sporadic bursts of effort; it’s the steady, reliable persistence that shapes your path.

Think of it this way: every day you stay consistent, you’re not just practicing your habit but reinforcing it. Over time, it becomes second nature, a part of who you are. So embrace it and stick with your commitments until it creates a bridge you can walk on regularly to reach your goals and dreams in life.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress when it comes to goal-setting is a vital motivational booster in your journey. It’s not just about where you’re going but also how far you’ve come. Whether you prefer writing in a journal or chucking everything on a habit-tracking app, keeping records of your efforts is essential.

Seeing those incremental victories written down or logged in your app is like receiving gold stars for your hard work. It’s tangible evidence that you’re on the right path. Plus, tracking allows you to adjust your strategy as needed, particularly if you notice a dip or a plateau.

So, as you chase your goals, don’t underestimate the power of progress tracking. It’s your personal cheerleader, roadmap to success, and navigator on this exciting journey. Each entry is a testament to your commitment and a reminder of how close you are to reaching your dreams.

Get a Boost From Positive Reinforcements

Boost From Positive Reinforcements

Adding positive reinforcements or rewards in your goal-setting journey is like giving yourself a high-five for a job well done. In doing so, you’re acknowledging and celebrating your progress in staying true to your habits.

It doesn’t have to be something grand or expensive — it can be as simple as a favourite treat, a night out with friends, or even some cherished personal time. Positive reinforcements act as a pat on the back, a way of saying, “You’re doing great. Keep it up!” Like a shot of motivation to your system, positive reinforcements keep you eager to push forward, reach new milestones, and ultimately achieve your goals.

Learn from Setbacks

Setbacks in your goal-setting journey are not roadblocks but rather stepping stones. Think of them as friendly nudges from life, encouraging you to evolve and grow. They’re like signposts pointing to areas where you can improve and become stronger.

It’s normal to sometimes be disheartened when we stumble or experience mishaps along the way. But it’s important not to allow ourselves to wallow in these situations and instead use them as golden opportunities to improve.

Adjust your strategy, fine-tune your approach, and gather new insights. This adaptability is your secret weapon and what separates you from those who give up. So, learn from your setbacks, but rise stronger and stay persistent. Remember, every setback is an opportunity for a comeback.

Small and Consistent Steps to Success

As you set out on your journey to reach your goals, remember that taking clear and consistent small steps is all it takes to make your dream a reality. And even if you encounter setbacks, don’t be discouraged – instead, take them as inspirations to do better. After all, every day is an opportunity to start fresh.

So, take these strategies with you on your journey towards achieving your goals and building positive habits. Keep dreaming, keep setting those goals, and keep building those habits. Your journey is yours to embrace, and success is yours to claim!

About Dan Grisoni

Dan Grisoni is a sought-after high performance coach and trainer. For over 20 years Dan has been helping managers and leaders become influential and inspiring so that they can live, matter, and thrive, 365.

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