Professional Development

Why forming habits, not just setting goals, will bring you success

Written by Guest Contributor

If you ask anyone, “What brings success in your work?” Most of them will probably say it is the combination of high goals plus hard work. We are taught to believe in the power of setting big goals and reaching them any way we can, without actually considering the baby steps we can take to make progress in ourselves. 

These little steps or “habits” are the little factors that make a huge impact on achieving success.

The difference between goals and habits

Goals make you want to achieve higher and bigger dreams you have set for yourself. They can be small or big, either way, it is a measure of how much you want to achieve at a given timeframe. On the other hand, habits are the routines you develop through constant practice of a particular task. They just appear out of nowhere because they tend to happen subconsciously. And these habits make up the progress of gaining success in what you do.

Let’s say you are a writer and you are planning to write a book. Your goal will be to finish writing your whole draft in 6 months. You have probably planned out strategies to be able to meet that goal, but have you considered committing to writing every morning just after you wake up when your senses are at its finest? That’s an effective routine to try out so you could produce more content. Imagine how this habit can make you write chapters after chapters without worrying about the timeline you have set because you have adopted the habit of writing responsibly.

You see, goals are quantifiable measurements of what you want to achieve, but habits are the ones that catapult you to achieving triumphs.

Why goals aren’t enough

What are goals for when you’re not taking the proper actions to attain them? Nothing, right? Yes, goals are the initial things we set to ourselves in order to succeed, but why aren’t they enough to achieve success? Here are the reasons why goals will never be enough:

  • Goals don’t last
    Setting work goals can be helpful, especially at the beginning of the year or a quarter, but what happens next when you meet them? You might feel depleted and tend to go back to your old ways. Goals are temporary.
  • Goals can make you feel insufficient when you don’t reach them
    You’ll feel like a failure upon knowing you have not reached your goal. You’ll question yourself what were the bottlenecks that hindered you from achieving them and feel like you have failed. You may think you are armed with the best skills any employee should have, but when you don’t reach a certain goal, your motivation can dip.
  • Goals demand discipline
    In order to reach your goals, a strong sense of self-discipline must be practiced. But when you are overworking yourself, you don’t just lose your energy, you are also draining yourself from working way too hard—resulting in stagnation and not progressing at all.
  • Goals limit you
    When you have set a certain target in your mind, you ought to focus on just achieving that number—without considering you can actually surpass that goal. Although goals are meant to be big, this sets a limitation to your capacity as you are taking measurements of your projected progress.
  • Some goals are unrealistic
    Setting your goals is exhilarating because you know you are on your road to progression. However, when you get too excited, you tend to think of unrealistic numbers that affect your overall performance.

Why forming habits equal greater success

This isn’t to say that goals are not good in success—this is to say that habits are far better investments to focus on when reaching for triumphs. Habits are incremental steps you do to reach your goal, thus, it is very essential to develop the right ones. 

Here are the reasons why habits bring you success:

  • Habits are forever
    These customary practices you have developed stay with you for life. You gain so much after adapting these habits into your life. You will not only reach one goal, but you are also giving yourself the chance to attain more because habits are sustainable.
  • Habits are easier to accomplish
    Goals carry a heavy load of duties to be fulfilled, whereas habits weigh much less. Habits are not even weighty, as they happen unconsciously because the mind is programmed to do them on a daily basis—bringing success.
  • Habits often exceed goals
    The goals you have set a limit. Whereas, if you develop a daily habit of doing a task that contributes to your goal, you are more likely to reach and exceed it as part of a sustainable routine. 
  • Habits are small but certain
    Habits are the little practices you do that do not put too much weight on your shoulders—they are manageable. They might seem small but they bring you certain results. Once you have adapted the best habits that will work for you, success is within your reach.

What are the right habits to form?

So what are these right habits you need to instill in your daily work to get that success you’ve been aiming for? Here is a list of good habits that will help you reach the top:

  • Pick your best working hours
    Identifying the right working hours contribute to your productivity. Mornings are great to kick off those tasks as you tend to be happier and more energetic at the beginning of the day. 
  • Practice proper time management
    When you are strapped on a fixed working schedule, you don’t have the freedom to work on what you think is your best hours. You have to instill time management habits that will produce you more quality outputs. 
  • Work in pieces
    Together with proper time management, knowing how much time you usually spend working on a certain task helps you outline how much you can do at a given timeline. So, the first thing you should do is identify how long you work on a given task and try to work on them in pieces to improve your work efficiency.
  • Make time for breaks
    It is important to not overwork yourself as this only drains you out and hinders you from accomplishing anything. Yes, you might be working your hardest just to get that next promotion, but you always have to take into consideration your personal capacity. Nothing matters more than your health; always be careful and never overstretch yourself into accomplishing tasks you are not yet ready for.

Goals are good. They help you reach your potential after all. It’s just that goals need proper action in order to achieve them—often making you overstretch yourself. But with habits, you learn to increase your progress without the excruciating effort. Habits don’t just bring you success, these are your lifelong investments that sustain your success.

About the Author:
Michael Shen is the founder and CEO of, an online education platform that helps people in their career development. He’s passionate about helping people reach new heights in their career, achieve their goals, and create a life they’re happy with.

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