36 Resources to Set Goals and Form Better Habits

Before you work on getting stronger, more efficient, or more charismatic, ask yourself: “to what end?”

Your answer becomes your guiding mission. Then, set out to master habit-building as a skill. Once you do those two things, you can set out to tackle your dreams.

I’m a little bit prickly about people who don’t have an end in mind — and it’s not just readers who fall into this trap. Many gurus publish masterful works of productivity or fat loss, but seemingly don’t have anyone in their life who loves them (or vice versa). What has being thin and rich gotten them, then? Not much (IMO).

So, I don’t want you to fall into that trap of thinking that activity is the same as accomplishment.

But I also don’t want you to fall into analysis paralysis of whether your goal is good enough. The Goal Setting section below is meant to land you in a healthy middle ground.

After that, there’s a section on habit building and habit breaking. You can’t go anywhere without the ability to create consistency in your life.

The concluding section is about Emotional Rewiring. All of us are of two minds: one emotional, and one rational. This is best explained in the Kahneman book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. Your rational mind is easy to convince — just gather research and facts.

However, your emotional mind must be rewired emotionally. This is the province of the wu wu, like magic crystals, mantras, etc. These interventions are irrational, and coming to grips with that was a big turning point in my own understanding of what works. As a science-loving rationalist, I go through these hokey seeming (to me) and sometimes metaphysical exercises with my own pragmatic mantra: “This is a useful mental construct.”

Goal Setting

These are broken down by scope. Most people at least consider New Year’s Resolutions. But also you should consider your life goals (and then regularly reconsider them), your annual goals (maybe re-evaluating mid-year), and then your weekly and daily goals.

New Year’s Resolutions:

Looking at the big picture of your entire life:

Looking at your year:

Looking at your week:

Looking at your day:

What to do when you fail to achieve a goal:

Habits & Behavior Design

Most people should read at least these first two articles. The first explains several popular models for forming your own habits. The second explains how once you have a habit, you can tune the difficulty of your practice so that you’re always improving at the optimal rate.

Breaking bad habits:

Optimizing & long term success:

Emotional Rewiring

It’s rational to have a bag of irrational strategies for rewiring your irrational emotions.