To Hell With Goals. Sort Of. How To Find The Best Habits

To Hell With Goals. Sort of.
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
To Hell With Goals. Sort Of. How To Find The Best Habits

A lot of people give up on things because they focus on goals.

Their goal is:

  1. Write 50,000 words by April.
  2. Lose 20 pounds before the wedding.
  3. Have $100,000 in the bank by January.

Goals are lovely. Goals are sexy. Goals work brilliantly for some people, but for some of us goals are absolute bullshit.

I know this. Yet I still fall into the goal trap all the time. If I don’t lose twenty pounds and only 19.5, I feel like I’ve failed. If I only write 49,998 words, I feel like I’ve failed. And I’m not even going to talk about the bank thing.

That’s because goals are all or nothing. You get them or you don’t.

Habits though? Habits are an author’s and a human’s best friend. Habits are amazing and good ones? They create other good ones.

Charles Duhigg wrote,The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. And in it he talks about keystone habits and how if we understand habits, we can figure out how to kick ass, basically.

He wrote in an interview:

“Take, for instance, a bad habit I had of eating a cookie every afternoon. By learning how to analyze my habit, I figured out that the reason I walked to the cafeteria each day wasn’t because I was craving a chocolate chip cookie. It was because I was craving socialization, the company of talking to my colleagues while munching. That was the habit’s real reward. And the cue for my behavior – the trigger that caused me to automatically stand up and wander to the cafeteria, was a certain time of day.

“So, I reconstructed the habit: now, at about 3:30 each day, I absentmindedly stand up from my desk, look around for someone to talk with, and then gossip for about 10 minutes. I don’t even think about it at this point. It’s automatic. It’s a habit. I haven’t had a cookie in six months.”


As a writer, people always ask me how I’m so productive. It’s because I usually write every day. That’s my habit. I was a much better drawer when I drew every day. I was a much healthier human when I exercised every day. And so on. Some habits have great rates of return (like lifting weights, walking) and some don’t (binging Tiger King). The key is to find the habits that help you toward your goals.

They call these habits, keystone habits, which LifeHack defines as:

“In literal terms, a keystone habit is any small change or habit that has a domino effect in your life. You focus on adding the habit to one aspect of your life but determination helps carry this habit to the other aspects of your life too.

“Each keystone habit has three main characteristics:

  1. They lead to the development of other habits
  2. Every habit adopted from a keystone habit is positively affiliated with the keystone habit
  3. These habits are small and easy

“Let’s take an example of a person who wants to improve the way he handles his emotions. He’ll start by visiting a therapist who helps him understand what goes on in his mind. Once he begins understanding his emotions himself, he’ll want an outlet to release these thoughts. So, he starts journaling. Journaling helps him put out his emotions in a structured manner on paper. This will help him get better at communicating in their workplace too.”

Working toward those goals in smaller increments (thirty-day habit forming cycles) is also pretty key because it seems doable and according to most research those thirty-day stints help us get the habit ingrained into our psyches.

Some Awesome Habits


Making your own food is way healthier and way more rewarding. Yes, it takes time, but if you can do it, do it. There are some great sites with 15-minute dinners. That’s less time than it takes to wait at McDonald’s lately.


I know! I know! No brainer, right? Start slow. Do something easy every day for that first month. Build from there.


Seriously. Step away from the screen. Read something in long form. Build your brain.


Making your thoughts make sense? Giving yourself some time with them? It’s pretty golden.

Chilling with other people

Yep. We have to remember how to interact in real life. Form those bonds.

Meditating or praying

Spiritual connections and purpose really help people. I swear.



The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.


AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.

Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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