How to Set Realistic Daily Goals, And Stick to Them

The word “habit” may have developed a negative connotation, but habits aren’t necessarily a bad thing. You may have heard that it takes about 21 days to make a habit. Those habits may be good things (like drinking plenty of water all day long) or they may be less desirable for our health and happiness (like biting our nails, or spending our evenings glued to the TV).

If you want to make improvements in your life, one of the best ways to do that is to change your habits. By the time an activity becomes a habit, it has become second nature. And what better way to get healthy activities into your life than by not having to think about doing them?

So, if you want to start accomplishing your goals, you need to turn them into daily habits. Here’s how to set realistic goals for yourself and turn them into habits you barely even need to think about doing.

Step 1: Define What You Really Want to Do

The first step is to spell out your goals. Some of these goals may look like habits (like trying to eat a healthy breakfast each morning) while others will look like long-term achievements (like writing a book). That’s totally okay.

The important part here is to weed out what’s not really important to you. If something on your list of goals is something society says you should do, but you’re not really passionate about (losing weight, for example), then it’s time to scratch it off the list. Whittle down your list of goals so that you’re only working on five things at a time.

Step 2: Break Down Long-Term Goals Into Daily Habits

This is arguably the most important part of your process. If you have lofty goals, it’s time to break them down into small actions you can take every single day. Without the minutiae of daily attention, goals are unlikely to be accomplished. Let’s take that example of writing a book: Break it down into manageable pieces. For example, you may decide that you want to spend one hour each day writing.

By now, your goals should have formed into a list of daily actions. Here’s an example of what those habits might be:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast each morning.
  2. Drink eight glasses of water per day.
  3. Call or text one loved one each evening to see how they’re doing.
  4. Spend one hour writing before bed.
  5. Be in bed by 10 p.m. every night.

Step 3: Create an Accountability System

Now it’s time to decide how you’re going to help yourself stick with your goals. Every habit will have slightly different parameters for measuring success. For example, drinking eight glasses of water per day is something you’ll probably want to physically log. Download an app like Lifesum or add a little water tally section into your daily planner.

Meanwhile, checking in with loved ones could be logged a little bit differently. Maybe you take the time on Sunday to write notes into your planner reminding you of who you should call each day. Or perhaps you set a reminder on your cell phone for each night at 6pm to tell you who you should call or text.

Whatever your goal is, find a way to track your progress and hold yourself accountable.

Step 4: Do It

Finally, habits are made by actually following through with them. Only you can do that. If you’ve set realistic goals for yourself and given yourself the tools to stay accountable, you should be able to follow through on what’s really important to you.

Try to stick to your new behavior for at least a month. After that time, if it feels like it’s unenjoyable or a burden, you can intentionally decide to let that habit go. But if you fall off the wagon sooner than a month in, get back into it — give yourself the time to make your goals into daily habits.

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67 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you.

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Sue H
Sue H4 months ago

Helpful suggestions, thanks.

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Leanne K
Leanne K4 months ago

Good advice but dont get waylaid by abusive partners

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Leanne K
Leanne K4 months ago

Care2 if you are going to continue using these pop up adds Im going to pull my hair out. Can you NOT

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Latoya B
Latoya Brookins4 months ago

This is important, especially if you suffer depression. I literally have a sign that reads "brush your teeth".

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R4 months ago

Thanks for posting.

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hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD5 months ago

Tyfs

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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David C
David C5 months ago

reasonable expectations, thanks

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