Habits are powerful. They are more than something “you do.” Habits are simple steps you incorporate into your day designed to change the way you deal with people, think about yourself, figure out how to proceed on a project and handle your everyday business dealings. Bad habits like failing to follow-up with customers in a timely manner can hold you back, but good habits like setting a goal of returning all customer inquiries within 4 hours can push you forward on the road of success.
The problem for most people is it can be difficult to develop healthy habits designed to push you forward in your business. Plus, it takes time. In his 2012 study, “Busting the 21 Days Habit Formation Myth” Gardner Sood B.D. reported it can take a whopping 66 days to develop a new habit. That requires a certain amount of patience, persistence, perseverance and self discipline. Without those important elements, no new habit can be formed nor the benefits experienced.
If you find yourself stuck at a certain spot in your career, it may be time to reevaluate your goals and decide what bad habits could be holding you back and think about what new habits you need to develop in order to break through your current threshold of success.
Not sure where to begin? I have a few pointers to help get you started.
Know What You Want
What are your goals for your business? What are you working towards? It is impossible to figure out what habits can help you along the road toward success if you don’t even know what path to travel. Once you have a few goals set (and written down), then consider which new habits can help you achieve them.
For instance, if you want to lose 20 pounds, some of the new habits you might need to work on would include:
- cutting your caloric intake
- adopting a daily exercise routine
- adopting a healthier eating plan
Developing the “habit’ of eating a healthy breakfast every morning or walking during your lunch break can help you achieve your ultimate goal; weight loss. The same strategy can be adopted to help you succeed in business. All you have to do is figure out what you want to accomplish and then develop solid steps (habits) to help you get what you want.
Routine is Key
Habits are not just formed. They take self discipline and a plan. Routine helps you develop habits by making the act a priority in your day. For instance, if you want to expand your customer base but you rarely have time to make cold calls to new clients, you may have to develop the habit of taking 30 minutes each day to call one or two prospects.
This will likely require penciling in that “assignment” like you would any other appointment. After a few weeks of including this activity on your daily calendar it should become a part of the day you do automatically.
Think About What’s Working and What’s Not
Not all habits turn into good ones. Sometimes (even with the best of intentions) a certain habit may become more of a crutch or detriment than a positive action step. This is why it is important to evaluate your habits every once in a while to see what is working and what is not. If something you are doing seems to be getting in your way, figure out how to change or tweak your behavior to make it more positive.
For instance, if you have the “habit” of milling around the break room every afternoon to connect with your employees but now find this brief break has become an extended recess time for everyone in the office, it may be time to “break this habit” or substitute it with something else. Once you realize your good intent to connect is actually causing a shift from productivity to laziness amongst your staff, make the necessary changes and adopt new and better habits office-wide.
Self Discipline is the Key to Success
Without the discipline to keep at it until a new activity becomes a habit, you are going to find it difficult to keep moving forward. Remember, new habits can be difficult to keep up at first, but get through that 66 days and you will be surprised how easily it has been incorporated into your schedule and becoming a natural way of doing things.
Think about the habits that get you through the day. Are they good ones that are helping to propel you into your future or could some of them be holding you back? Use the tips above to figure out what personal and work habits can stay – and which ones have to go. Then work on developing stronger, more positive ones to keep you steadily working toward your goals –and achieving them!