There’s an old saying, “first you make your habits and then they make you”. Even the smallest habits can have a big impact on our lives and business. Whether I want to replace an old habit or start a new one, I’ve learned to be intentional about following certain steps.
I begin with envisioning the future I want to create and making a strong link in my mind and heart between the habit and the outcome. I think about how this will make my life better. Or how would not taking action make my life worse? Some of us respond better to the negative than the positive but I recommend doing both.
Next, I track my progress. When I know I’m making progress it is easy to stay motivated, and keeps my ego at bay while it is “barking” at me to give up. Make a game out of it, and use an app or some other technology if that helps, but whatever you do: keep it simple. Time and time again I find simple gets done. Sometimes a notebook and a pen is all I need.
Whenever possible I will make a ritual out of it. I’m a person that enjoys variety and change, but I have really come to appreciate the value of rituals in my life for anything I do regularly that I invest with meaning. I’ve found most successful people practice morning rituals, evening rituals, weekend rituals, relationship rituals, need I go on?
I’ve found it critical to establish some kind of accountability. As a business coach, that’s often a reason people hire me. So, ideally I find someone who can do it with me, and maybe even check in with me, to remind and encourage me to honor my commitment, and push for the results I want. I’ve found nagging doesn’t work for me – it just channels my inner rebel.
Finally, I schedule checkups at certain milestones. If there is a professional that can help me benchmark my progress like a doctor or a dentist I will do a follow up appointment to be examined. Otherwise, I’ll just set a deadline to measure myself or have a colleague test me. I work well with deadlines, artificial or otherwise they create needed urgency for me. Without a check in I can kind of get “all over the place”. Celebrating these milestones gives my self-esteem a boost.
Like anyone, I have habits that aren’t good for me that I’m not ready to give up yet – but I never take myself out of the game. It’s all part of my journey of never ending and continuous improvements.
Clint Best is a business coach and the founder of Kaizen Business Coaching in Kelowna, BC. Clint has been guiding forward thinking business owners through change and growth since 2002.