In the interest of accountability, I want to publish my goals for 2021. I’m trying my best to be realistic but challenging with these.
My plan is to establish a series of simple habits that I can follow with low friction but clear intent.
Before I get into the weeds, I should mention that the majority of what I learned on habits came from James Clear’s “Atomic Habits”. If you want to learn more, please check it out. It’s worth the read.
An example of how not to construct a habit:
I want to draw.
I want to draw every day.
I want to draw every day for 15 minutes.
When I can create clear, discrete, and measurable goals for the habit, it’s easy to tell when I’m done: I drew for 15 minutes. I can reward myself with a treat, which helps re-enforce the habit.
I’m not concerned with what I do during these 15 minutes. I should be drawing, but with no focus on what I’m drawing. The idea is to establish the habit first and make it routine.
Another key part of habit building is starting small. It’s tempting to go big here, but your ideal duration is not sustainable when building a new habit. By making the habit maintainable, I’m setting myself up for success.
If I want to practice drawing an hour every day — it’s going to be a challenge to sustain that habit from the get-go. Unless you’re a machine, eventually you’ll say to yourself “ugh, a whole hour?” and end up doing nothing.
If you start small, say 15 minutes (don’t be afraid to go smaller — 10 or 5 minutes is okay), it’s easy to trick the lizard part of your brain into starting. “It’s 15 minutes. I can do that!” If you can manage 15 minutes a day for a few weeks, then you can start looking at increasing your habit duration. Small steps are important here. Jumping from 15 minutes to an hour won’t work, but 15 to 30 minutes is doable. Smaller increments are okay!
With all that out of the way, here are the habits I want to establish.
“Practice piano” and “practice drawing” are vague, but that’s okay. I’m starting off with a loose idea of what I’d like to do. Later I’ll establish larger goals that will determine what I’ll be explicitly doing.
The goal of setting a habit is to help accomplish a larger, complicated goal. Habits are the cornerstone of goals in my opinion.
I like to follow the SMART pattern, which reduces vagueness and keeps it specific.
I want to learn (1) piano piece every 2 months. -> I will practice piano for 15 minutes per day
I want to finish Drawabox’s lessons 0-3 in 2 months. -> I will practice drawing for 15 minutes per day -> I will spend 50% of my drawing time drawing for fun
I want to finish a book every month. -> I will read for 30 minutes per day