Goal Setting: Creating Habit

Creating Goal-Oriented Habits

When you’re working toward a new goal, you’ll likely need to create new habits. Habits are all about routine, and forming habits initially requires conscious thought, energy, and focus.

A new habit takes about a month to become part of your daily life. While you can’t expect to see results after just a day or two, after four weeks or so, you can anticipate your new habit will require less work.


Monthly Habit Tracker

We’ve been working with Honey Stinger athlete, coach and Breakthrough Women’s Running: Dream Big and Train Smart author Neely Gracey on goalsetting.  Neely has shared the habit tracker she uses when coaching her athletes.

A habit tracker helps you identify the habits you want to incorporate into your daily life – the ones that will help you make progress toward your specific goal, and check them off on a daily basis. Checking off daily habits allows you to notice and acknowledge what you missed, and it holds you accountable.

Insert co-branded image of NG’s partially filled out MHT with caption: In December, Neely tracked 11 habits she thought would help her achieve her running goals for the winter.


Be Specific to Support Your Goals

Using the monthly habit tracker is a way to keep outcome and process goals top of mind (learn about setting outcome and process goals here). After setting a big goal, identify the daily behaviors that will support it. They could be drinking fluids with added electrolytes twice a day, eating protein with every meal, limiting alcohol during the week, or journaling 10 minutes a day. Establishing specific habits allows you to hone in on aspects of your lifestyle that can determine whether you achieve your goal.

How many habits should you have on your tracker at any given time? It varies. The number depends on what you’re trying to change and where you are in the process. If you’re modifying your daily routine to run a marathon in six months, you might have more habits on the list in month one than you do in month six. You might take habits off your list each month because they become part of your routine (nailed it!).


Track Yourself Over Time

Behaviors, habits, and routines are revealing. Habits that stay on your tracker month after month can mean they’re super important to you or they’re lingering weaknesses that hold you back. Trackers can be saved and repurposed over time so you can pinpoint habits that have helped you and identify habits that continue to be a struggle. Looking back at habit trackers gives you ideas, perspective, and confidence as you move forward.


You & Your Habits Evolve

Behaviors, habits, and routines are also dynamic. Because you can’t control everything–including your outcomes–focus on what you can control. Recognize, too, that you don’t have to be rigid, black and white, or all or nothing. It’s okay if you miss a day. The habits on this month’s tracker aren’t necessarily forever habits. They can change anytime–when you accomplish your goal, change your goal, or realize they’re unrealistic.

A common mistake athletes make is listing habits that are dramatically different from their current lifestyle. Make sure your habits are sustainable. It’s best to have a positive mindset of forward growth where you strive to be one notch better next month. Climb the stairs, don’t summit the mountain. Habits help you accomplish a specific goal. They don’t dictate how you’ll live the rest of your life, and they don’t change who you are or how you perform overnight.

Using a monthly habit tracker is a strategy for awareness, accountability, and improvement. It’s also a way to keep you on the rails. When you can see how you’re doing every day, you can adjust in real time.


Get the habit tracker (link to tracker doc)


About Neely

Neely has represented team USA five times including the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the Pan American Games. In college, she was an 8x NCAA DII National Champion. Neely was the top American at the 2016 Boston Marathon and the 11th American female ever to break 70 minutes in the half marathon. Alongside her own goals, Neely helps coach other runners to reach theirs. She is a Lydiard level I & II Certified Coach and has worked with over 500 athletes through her business, Get Running. While Neely has achieved a lot of success, she didn’t achieve every goal she set. But over a decade later, after two successful pregnancies and founding a thriving business, Neely just ran a personal best time of 2:30 in the marathon and qualified for her fourth Olympic Trials.

Coach: Get Running Coaching

Author: Breakthrough Women's Running

Instagram: @neelysgracey