Most days, I commute to and from work by bicycle. Round-trip, I ride about 15 miles a day. Lots of people see me riding my bike and will ask later if I’m training for something or trying to get into shape. “No!” I’m quick to say. “I ride my bike for transportation, relaxation and fun.” I say that because if I thought of my bicycle riding as exercise, it would have likely stopped where all my “exercise” plans do: about two weeks into the torture. But unwittingly, I found something I enjoy doing, bike riding, and have made it so much a part of what I do each day, it has become a habit that my body and mind miss if I must skip a day due to weather or a meeting conflict.

Too often, those who run a small business focus on setting goals – especially around the first of the year – when they should be focusing on changing habits. Self-help author and blogger Mark Manson says it’s better to invest your limited focus and energy on building habits instead of on reaching specific goals. I agree with Manson’s take on why goals fail why habits work.

Why goal setting fails

  • They require too much self-discipline
  • People tend to bite off more than they can chew
  • People often take shortcuts to achieve a goal (starving to lose weight)
  • Once met, people declare victory over their goal and return to prior behavior (binge eat)
  • They burn up so much energy and discipline, they end up failing and making you feel even more defeated than you felt before you set them

Why focusing on changing habits is better

  • Habits are simple daily or weekly repetitions
  • Habits require you take a few steps each day, not climb Mt. Everest
  • Habits are not about reaching an endpoint
  • Habits don’t require that you learn to fly, they help you find the autopilot toggle switch


Invest your limited time, energy and discipline into building habits rather that setting goals.  Over time, habits serve as the foundation for achieving any goal you may have.




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