Goal setting and habits for success

Goal setting and habits for success

In a LinkedIn Live session, WOB’s WA representative Kylah Morrison talked about goal setting and creating habits for success. In it Kylah unpacks what success really means to you, and the power of habits to set yourself up for success in 2024. As she says: “Walk away with your 90-day action plan, but only after we've stopped to #pauseforapplause about 2023”. 

Here is an edited transcript of Kylah’s presentation:

“I have been reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. He is absolutely amazing and he has a really fantastic blog on minimalism that I've been following for years and talks about the circle of control versus the circle of influence.

In Atomic Habits James Clear talks about the ‘nudge concept’ that if we just take small steps every single day or every moment that we have capacity to move towards those goals, we're more likely to reach those goals than if we just force ourselves.

And so I'm going to go through a few steps today before we get into the actual process of thinking about our habits and setting our goals for 2024 and beyond.

Habits vs goals

I've been working with the concept of habits for about a year and a half now, and it just really helps take off some of that pressure of setting these goals.

I've got really high expectations, so any of the overachievers that are listening in today, you'll know how that feels. When I don't achieve them, I tend to really quickly default to thinking about all the things that I didn't do to get towards my goals.

Whereas if we focus on the habits, we set ourselves up for a much healthier way of achieving our goals.

And you can liken that to quitting smoking or going to the gym. One of the pieces that resonated most out of his book for me was that concept of the identity.

So instead of thinking of yourself as becoming a non smoker or wanting to stop smoking, they're all linked back to smoking. Whereas if you reframe that as a healthy person that has got a new lease of life and use full expanse of your lungs and your capacity, you are going to be doing different things in that second example compared to the first one, because in the first one you're tied to that identity of being a smoker and needing to move away from that.

The other identity of being a healthy person, making healthy choices, you are more likely to take action and do things and have habits that are related to healthy habits and practices that hopefully will replace the desire to smoke.

Now, I say that having never been a smoker, but my father smoked all his life and he's managed to quit recently. And so I don't say that it's easy. I'm just saying that that refocusing on identity is really powerful and the power of habits.

#Pause for Applause

You will need a piece of paper for this part. Draw a line down the middle and on the left side write the heading #pause for applause and the right side, write the heading Habits.

#pause for applause came about really early on in my business journey when I was working with a mentor, and she talked about this concept of pause for applause.

She said very rarely do we stop and actually take stock of how far we've come. A lot of people that are goal-orientated, future focused, we're always looking out here and we're not always looking back here and celebrating where we've come from.

So take a couple of minutes and I want you to pause for applause, take a deep breath, and just have a think about 2023, not Christmas, not the rush before Christmas, but the whole of 2023, and think about what are you most proud of?

And I hope that when you do that, that you won't just think of the achievements in terms of the tick boxes or the tasks. It's great to put them down there if you want to do that. But hopefully you can also think about things that really lit you up, that made you energised, feel energized, that made you want to do more, made you want to be more of the person that you are.

So we're tapping more into the feeling sensation and maybe the habits that you might have going on and not just the milestones.

Now grab your piece of paper, # pause for applause, and just have a little think about what is it in 2023 that you are most proud of. Ideally, you'd write two or three things. If you would like to, you can go to town and you can write ten or 15. Just try not to overthink it.

I find if you are getting a bit stuck in a loop just to start writing anything. It’s a process called free writing that I've done many times before. It doesn't have to look pretty, doesn't have to make sense. It's just starting to get those ideas out on the page.

But we're really trying to tap into our heart and into our gut in what really made us proud in 2023 so that we can leapfrog off that foundation in 2024.

Check your feelings

Next go back through your list. And you can see I deliberately don't make it list like, because I'm trying to unlearn some of the habits that I learned during my engineering and all my years at school to let my ideas flow and get things out instead of making them look legible.

And I want you to reread them and then just have a think about the feelings that those bring to you. So how does that make you feel? Is it proud? Hopefully it's proud because we're doing #pause for applause.

We're not looking for gaps or lack, or any things that you didn't do. Hopefully it makes you proud.

Maybe it makes you feel content. Maybe it makes you feel fulfilled, energetic, happy, fun, light. Leveraging off those feelings - being proud, happy, energized, fulfilled, content - if you were to pull just a couple of them over to the right hand side - where you’ve written Habits for Success - and put them in an area for feelings.

Reframe your habits


Start doing or reframing a ‘stop doing’. So maybe you need to stop a habit, but instead of writing down that habit, I want you to reframe it and write it down in a more positive one that will lead towards those feelings that you felt based on your achievements in 2023.

What kind of habits do we need? Again this doesn't need to be a big list. It's just a couple of ideas. For a lot of us it might be going back to the yoga mat or going back to the gym.

Hold on to that feeling and then start with the habits over on the right hand side and start to think about what are the habits that I continue doing in 2024 that I was doing last year or previously that I might have dropped the ball on? What do I need to start doing? And how do I reframe something that I need to stop doing as a habit into a positive habit?

Mark your milestones

Now flip over the page and get into a bit of more of the logical brain, and then I'm going to pull you back to the habits and the feeling and the emotion side of it so that we really have some weight behind that and we can leverage that nudge concept and have the motivation to take those small steps every day instead of forcing ourselves with a characteristic to do things purely to achieve goals.

So flip over the page and  split it in two. And on the left hand side we're going to do some big, hairy, audacious goals. And on the right side we'll do the 90 day action plan.

So just focus on the left hand side for now. At the top write 2024, 2025, 2026 and then down the side put some priority areas in your life.

When you've got the ones written down the side, you're going to just sort of like bingo anywhere that it kind of jumps out. It’s about planning some of those milestones 

so you can mentally and emotionally connect with what that time frame actually looks like. Because sometimes it's really hard to plan for the future.

I think it's Bill Gates talks about that we overestimate what we can achieve in two years and underestimate what we can achieve in ten years. And so that concept of time is not linear and yet it's also not familiar to us when we think far out in the future.

So this is really just to block out some high level timestamps across different areas of your life.

Big, hairy, audacious goals

Then start to write down what you would love to achieve in those different areas. As I say ‘ BHAG’ or big, hairy, audacious goals.

So many people underestimate what they are capable of. A big, hairy, audacious goal is something that is way out there as a guiding star. We might never achieve it, but by having it there, it motivates us and drives us to do better and be better. And so I encourage you to make it really big.

American poet Mary Oliver has this great quote called that says: “Leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable”.

And I think so often we’re taught that one plus one equals two. We're taught that here's a square, and you need to fit these blocks in this arrangement. It's quite linear, it's quite logical, and that's how we get to the things that we get to.

But when we truly connect and we disconnect from what others want and expect from us, and we reconnect with what really lights us up and we let go of any of those perceptions or judgments, we can be free to have really wild and exciting desires.


And so this is probably a good moment while  you're having a little look at your sheet and filling in the bingo cards of what you might want at different points in different years is Esther Hicks's concept of manifesting.


And she talks about sort of three steps, but there's sort of a fourth as well. And the first is that we are able to identify contrast.

So what around us is really niggly frustrating us. What do we not want? So that we get really clear and we get clarity on what we do want. And then when we have that clarity, step two is launching those rockets of desire.

And so coming back to the big, hairy, audacious goals, if we don't sit with ourselves and we don't have the clarity to launch those rockets of desire, we don't start to become more aware and focused on those different activities, the habits that we need to be doing that will get us closer to those goals.

Removing the resistance

The third step, which is really powerful that I talked about a little bit at the end of the year, was coming back into alignment to receive those goals. And it's essentially reducing the resistance to any goals that we might have in our lives.

And so whether that's on a personal note or in a team setting, people are not typically used to change. And so we are comfortable with what is happening, even if it's not healthy, even if it's not productive. What we know is easier to maintain the status quo. It's harder for us to change.

And so we need that motivator, we need that reason, we need that intrinsic know.

If you think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and our bottom layers are met with our safety and security and our food and our belonging in a community, we need a purpose and that self actualization to drive us further forward.

And so if we think back to that manifesting: One, what's the contrast? What's the thing I'm not happy with? Two: have I launched that rocket of desire? And 3: Am I removing any resistance to that and doing things that are in alignment.

So habits and a lot of that is getting out of your head and not doing the logical things you need to do, but doing the things that you, as a human mind, body and soul needs so that you have the energy to do the physical things that's going to get you closer to your goals and back to the launching the rockets of desire.

Another quote I love is by Tom O'Toole, who owns and runs Beechworth Bakery and  has a great book called Breadwinner. Essentially he says, if your goals are not written down on paper, they don't exist.

If we talk about Mary Oliver's quote - that’s getting you trying to think outside of what's happening now and drive you for the future.

90-Day action plan

Before you start on the 90-day action plan, have a think about your Big Hairy Audacious Goals.Turning back to your habits, are they helping you get towards those BHAGS? Do we need to add some more to that list?

When I say habits, they're the really micro things. So they are waking up in the morning and not looking at my phone as soon as I wake up or thinking about my to-do list and all the things I've got to do before I take a moment to be grateful for what I have and excited for my future or something like that.

Drinking six, ideally glasses of water every day is a habit and that prioritises my health and well being, sets me up for a clear mind so that I can get after my goals.

The 90 day action plan could easily default to being an endless to do list.

And while we're on the subject of to-do lists, I often have a ‘not going to do list’ and I've talked about that a lot in the masterclasses over the years that I've run. (What I've reframed it to recently is ‘not going to do yet’ because I love being creative and I love doing lots of different things).

But in the 90 day action plan, rather than thinking of things you need to do, try and think about milestones. So we've got the BHAG over the next three years. And if you were to pick one of those goals and move over to the 90 day action plan with a one month, two month - it's up to you how you want to do it.

Picking one of those BHAG’s - what is a milestone? What's one thing that you can check in say six months and further on?  We need to have those milestones to measure against and see how we’re going. 

In summary

So, it is absolutely super important that you take time to pause for applause. When you think of performance reviews in the corporate world, we're always talking about areas for improvement. We're always talking about what comes next. We don't often stop and celebrate our achievements and how they make us feel. Tap into that feeling a bit more and unpick the feelings.

Then what are the habits that we need to do to get there? Then think about the Big Hairy Audacious Goals over three years in different areas of our life.


It truly is amazing if you come back and do this every six months, 12 months, couple of years and think have my goals change, write a little note of a new goal that comes up, or you might go, yeah, wow, what was I thinking?

Then we come down to the more logical milestone to measure against whether we are on track to achieve our BHAGs. If we're not, do we need to revisit our habits and think about whether they are the healthiest and the most productive habits that are going to help us build that identity? For what we want to be and what we want to do in the world.

Contact Kylah at wa@womenonboards.net

Find Kylah on LinkedIn HERE