Our future self needs our current self to make good decisions. Most of us have heard the saying ‘we are creatures of habit’, but I wonder how many of us can honestly say we are intentionally building and maintaining habits that will help us live more happy, flourishing and meaningful lives?
This is a question that is important for our personal and business life.
In an interesting research paper titled ‘Experiences of habit formation: A qualitative study’ by Phillipa Lally, Jane Wardle and Benjamin Gardner published in Psychology, Health & Medicine, they remind us of just how important it is to be consciously and mindfully aware of the significance that our habits have on our potential to achieve the goals we strive toward.
They write, “Habit formation is an important goal for behaviour change interventions because habitual behaviours are elicited automatically and are therefore likely to be maintained.”
What they’re saying is that when we set goals, our likelihood of success is increased when we work on developing habits in our life that will support that goal achievement. This works because habits work automatically, and therefore, we’re more likely to be making good decisions and getting the stuff done that needs to be done, to support that goal achievement.
OK. I get that although this is based on qualitative scientific evidence, it’s also not really rocket science is it!
However, I’m still amazed whenever I am privileged to be conducting a masterclass in the corporate world, just how many people in the audience readily admit that while they may have goals that are mandated to them by their managers, a large number do not really have goals in their personal life.
While some people will say that they have goals, when you push the enquiry a little further, you discover that they have wishes and dreams and hopes, but not really goals.
The first inescapable truth in the Intentionomics blueprint of 9 inescapable truths for a prosperous life is to Define A Prosperous Life (what would you have and be doing to live a happy, flourishing and meaningful life?). This is then supported by inescapable truth #2 which is to Take stock of your truth (if that’s what a happy, flourishing and meaningful life is for you… are your current habits of choice, decisions and actions helping or hindering you from living it?).
One of the reasons that we know from the science why many people don’t set goals, is because they haven’t clearly identified WHY! While it’s easy to say we want this or that in our life, whether this or that is something physical or emotional, unless we know why we want these things in our life, unless there’s a connection between what we want with our personal values, with a larger sense of purpose or meaning, there is a higher likelihood that we won’t commit to set goals, or won’t commit to taking the appropriate actions or developing the appropriate habits to achieve them.
Goal setting is so often put forward as an exercise in isolation of the rest of what it takes to live a happy, flourishing and meaningful life. However, in isolation, most things lack context, and without context there is no meaning. In a way it’s a bit of a which comes first, chicken or egg situation. The reality is, all of these elements, intention, life clarity, purpose, meaning, goals, habits, and trust… they’re all interconnected.
Your future self needs for your current self to be making good decisions, and to be forming habits that will promote a more happy, flourishing and meaningful life. This means self-trust.
Are you developing the habits that enable you to, with hand on heart, honestly say, I trust myself?