Every goal you set belongs to one of two camps; they’re either habit goals or achievement goals. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which you choose so long as you actually choose one. After all, procrastination won’t create the fulfilling life you seek.
But effective goal setting certainly can.
That said, some people favor achievement goals over habit goals, some favor the reverse. I’ll weigh in with my own preference later on. But first, I should probably explain the two.
*Note: When you’re ready to (finally) achieve your goals, enroll in my goal success course. It’s a must!
What are habit goals?
Habit goals are things that you want to have become part of your lifestyle. They are completed on a recurring basis and don’t necessarily have an end date; you continue doing them until you feel like they’re no longer needed.
For example, earlier this year I set a goal to complete 50 kettlebell swings a day, four days a week.
Jump ahead a couple of months, I’ve enjoyed doing the swings but haven’t gotten the results I was expecting (ie. I’ve gained muscle in my thighs instead of my core).
So I’ve retired that habit goal and set a new one in its place.
More about habit goals
As far as deadlines go, notice how there was no set endpoint. I completed the goal each week until it was no longer properly serving me, at which point I changed it.
The other thing to notice is that the goal recurred on a daily and weekly basis. Each week I needed to do 50 swings a day over the course of at least four days. If I did 50 swings for four days, I completed my goal for the week. If I didn’t do them, then I didn’t achieve the goal.
To provide more examples, here are some additional habit goals that I’m currently working on:
- Complete two books a month (either physical or audiobook)
- Go on a date with my wife once a month
- Fast for 24 hours, once a week (*I’m not a doctor so don’t take that as medical advice, cool?)
What are achievement goals?
Achievement goals, on the other hand, have a set endpoint. With achievement goals, you work towards a fixed location that you then make progress on as the deadline approaches.
For example, not long ago I set a goal to publish five posts to my site within a month. The tasks that comprised that goal included:
- Researching what to write about
- Drafting the post
- Editing it
- Publishing the post
- And sharing it with others
All actions that resulted in the completion of one post. As I completed each subsequent post, I started work on the next. And so on and so forth until the deadline came to a close and I could marvel at the posts I published.
More about achievement goals
Compared to habit goals, achievement goals have a hard deadline. There is a determined stop point at which you have either achieved the goal or you have not. And past that point, there is no second chance or opportunity to return back to it.
It’s now behind you.
Additionally, achievement goals are generally comprised of subtasks. Where habit goals normally represent the task itself (ex. Do one pushup a day), achievement goals generally represent the end result (ex. Do 500 pushups within four months).
To reach that end result, you then have numerous tasks to complete before you can attain it.
Here are some examples of achievement goals to help provide more clarification. They are the same goals from above, but revised to be achievement-based instead of habit-based:
- Read 20 books by December 31st
- Go out of town for three days during Labor Day weekend, just my wife and I
- Complete ten fasts within three months
Some other examples of achievement goals include:
- Run a marathon six months from today
- Complete an online course by the end of the month
- Publish a book by the beginning of the fourth quarter next year
Habit vs achievement goals – what do I recommend?
90% of my goals are habit goals.
Because I find habit goals help to create that ideal lifestyle I’m after. For instance, I’m more likely to fast for 24 hours once a week because it repeats itself. It’s recurring and it stays top of mind. After a few weeks, it becomes ingrained with who I am and thus becomes easier to do.
In turn, I become someone that does fasts.
On the other hand, if I were to give myself three months to complete ten fasts, I’d be stuck doing all ten in a row because I would put them off till the last minute. I wouldn’t be someone that fasts. I’d be someone that procrastinates.
Habit goals, therefore, help to consistently mold you into the person you want to become.
If you set a habit goal to run one mile a day, in three months you will consider yourself a runner. But if you set an achievement goal to run a 5k in three months, even if you train for it and don’t procrastinate, after completing it you will likely stop running altogether – having nothing to work towards anymore.
Habit and achievement goals are both great. And as long as you take the initiative and set goals for yourself in any capacity, more power to you.
However, if I could only recommend one option, it’s habit goals.
What’s your preference – habit or achievement?
Let me know! Leave a comment, tweet at me, or send me an email. I’d love to know what you think. Seriously. I want to hear from you!
And of course, when you’re ready to start achieving those goals you set, be sure to take part in my goal success course here.