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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Creating habits to achieve your goals? Gain clarity on your why.

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

A white molded figure of a person is thinking why?

Achieving goals and creating habits can be hard! To make the process more successful and permanent, we’ve explored the importance of:

If your motivation to persist is waning, it may be time to revisit the reason why the habit and resulting goal are important to you.

Gain clarity on your why.

Remind yourself WHY the habit you are struggling with and the goal it will help you achieve are important. Ask, “Why do I want to achieve this?” List as many reasons as you can think of.

Is it beneficial to your health and well-being? Will it strengthen your relationships? Will it enhance your career or finances? Does it help you achieve other goals and ultimately a higher purpose?

Our why for doing something is a powerful motivator. Especially if we can identify multiple benefits.

Let’s look at the example of creating a habit of eating a heart-healthy diet – consuming more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. Our why for this habit might include lowering our cholesterol and blood pressure, having greater fitness for pursuing travel, and living longer for our family.

When we encourage others to create habits, help them clarify why being successful is important.

Allow lightning bolt events to motivate you.

At times, an event creates a strong motivating WHY. These are considered lightning bolt events.

Related to the previous example, a heart attack or a diagnosis of heart disease can be a lightning bolt. Similarly, a heart attack, cancer diagnosis, or death of a friend or family member can spur one to action. However, health scares are not the only motivating events.

A positive event such as the birth of a child or grandchild can be a lightning bolt. We are motivated to stay healthy for another person who needs us.

A layoff or the start of a new job can be a lightning bolt for practicing professional habits that help us with our career and financial goals.

A session at a professional conference may provide new knowledge that motivates taking action.

What other lightning bolts can you think of?

Your turn to gain clarity on your why.

Even when our habits are relatively easy to follow, it pays to reflect on why they are important. And when habits are harder to maintain, our why is essential to keep us going. Our reason to keep doing something needs to be stronger than the barriers that get in our way.

Follow this course of action:

  1. Ask, “Why is this habit important to me?”

  2. List as many reasons as possible and determine what’s most important.

  3. Remind yourself of your why when the going gets tough: I ______ because ______.

Our final post in this series will explore the importance of keeping our habits fresh and trying new ways to achieve our goals.

“A good archer is known not for his arrows but by his aim.” ~ Thomas Fuller

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Great article. It really taps into the maintaining that momentum

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