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5 Reasons Your Good Habits Don’t Stick
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Oh hey there,
I’m Sarah Von Bargen.
Want to look at your calendar and your bank statement and think “Yup, I made awesome choices”? I’ll show you how to spend your time, money, and energy on purpose.
I laaaaaughed when I saw the question and its accompanying emoji in my Instagram DMs.
Is there any hope for us non-Virgos, non-Enneagram 3s* to get organized or ever get anything done?? 😭♓
And while I sometimes joke that my time-management and organizational skills are just the “software that came installed,” I promise that no matter who you are, what your personality type is, or your day to day life is like it’s possible to get more done and be more organized.
Keep reading and you’ll find three goal-setting tips even if productivity, goal-setting, and time-management don’t “come naturally” to you!
3 Goal-Setting Tips That Might Work Even If The Usual Goal-Setting Advice Doesn’t
🤔 Think of times you’ve succeeded in the past + how that happened
What did you do to land your dream job? How did you successfully host a holiday meal for 15 people and enjoy the process? How did you finish that huge project before the deadline, without stressing yourself out?
We all have successes in our past that can help set us up for successes in the future. And I bet there are some common denominators in those successes!
If you can figure out what your previous successes have in common, it’ll be easier to replicate them in other areas of your life.
Some questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about those past success:
- Did I have external accountability – an appointment with a personal trainer, an application deadline, an expiration date?
- Why was I pursuing the things that I eventually succeeded in? I wanted to make more money? My health was on the line? It was a long-time passion of mine?
- What sort of support did I have – a coach, a teaching assistant, a friend who was working towards the same thing, a Meetup group or a Facebook group?
🐜 If you’re feeling resistant, make your steps smaller. NO EVEN SMALLER THAN THAT
Thing you want: A new job
“Small” step you’re resisting: Totally re-writing your resume
Even smaller step you could try: Updating your contact information on your resume or the section about your current employment
One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is to break things down into comically tiny, 10-minute-ish tasks and then reward ourselves once we’ve completed three or four.
If you really want to trick your brain into feeling good, write out (like, with a pen and paper) three or four comically tiny tasks. Then, as you breeze through them, physically cross them out with your pen. Most brains release dopamine when a task is completed! It’s sexy and cool to say we’re going to start running five miles a day. It takes a lot of gumption and self-awareness to do the unsexy work of starting with a 30-minute brisk walk Click To Tweet.
🙅♀️ Stop trying to make other people’s methods work for you
The world would have you believe that The Best Way to get things done is by getting up at 6 am, writing a paper to-do list, and time-blocking your calendar to avoid distractions.
Those things are awesome and they work very, very well for some brains, some personality types, and some lifestyles.
But if you have an infant, or ADHD, or a sleep disorder, or a varying work schedule Productivity Advice As Usual might not work for you. This doesn’t mean that nothing, ever will work. It does mean that you have permission to try something else.
There are a jillion different tools, methods, and approaches to productivity, time management, and personal fulfillment. If you’ve given one approach a real, honest try and it’s not working – it’s okay to move on and try something else!
I hope these suggestions – reviewing past successes, removing resistance by taking smaller steps, and being open to new methods – will help you get more things done. Even if you’re not a Virgo. 😉
*I’m actually an Enneagram 1 FOOLED YA DIDN’T I?!
When I was 32, I celebrated one of the biggest accomplishments of my life with a plate of nachos, a vodka gimlet, and gathering of friends at my favorite neighborhood bar. Over a plate of melted cheese, we cheers-ed my upcoming 11-month, nine-country trip. As the night wore on and more cocktails were consumed, one of my friends leaned across the table and said “Okay, I’m just gonna say what...
Seven years ago, I found a cockroach floating in my coffee cup. At the time, I was working as an ESL teacher in a crumbling building in a not-particularly-great neighborhood. Our receptionist’s computer was stolen off her desk in the middle of a work day. Once, our grammar lesson was interrupted by a man urinating against the glass door of our street-level classroom. I earned $34,000 a year at...
"Ughhhhhhh. Why can’t I break my mindless Instagram habit?!! I trained for a marathon, I paid off all my school debt, I graduated with a 3.9 but I can’t stop scrolling through strangers’ photos? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME I HATE EVERYTHING.” Raise your hand if you’ve uttered something like this within the confines of your mind! (Everyone, ever raises their hand.) Maybe Instagram isn’t your vice of...
“I’m sort of shooting myself in the foot here, but no. I don’t think you should buy it. I can’t, in good faith, take your money.” I laugh awkwardly as my friend squints at me over her laptop. We’re co-working in a pretty, light-filled coffee shop downtown. I’ve been telling her about my course Make It Stick Habit School and (shameless brag!) how it’s helped people build writing habits, gym...
I see the question pop into the chat box, followed immediately by three thumbs up emojis. And then a “Yeah, I was wondering that, too!” And a “YESSSSS.” Which is how I realized I should probably write a blog post answering one of the most common questions I get when I talk + teach about habits. One of the most common questions I get from Make It Stick Habit School students (enrollment for the...
Can you make it a habit to be a good partner? Are there such things as “good relationship habits”? (I can hear you being skeptical from all the way over here.) You might be sick of hearing me talk about habits by now (not stopping anytime soon!), but I truly believe that they’re one of the secrets to a life well-lived. Studies vary, but psychologists and neurologists estimate that between 40...