The most successful entrepreneurs all say they build good habits. Would you say you have good habits?
For example, we coach business owners to ‘eat the frog’ – do the task you dread the most first thing of the day. If you don’t? You’ll spend the rest of the day doing everything you can to avoid having to get to work because getting to work means you’ll have to do that difficult thing. So you’ll do all kinds of lower priority things like—
- Wander out of your office to chat with a few people
- Make a couple calls home
- Do tasks that are easier than that ‘frog’ even though they’re not due until next month
- Help someone with a task whether they asked for your help or not
How do you build good habits?
In our April Growth Plan Workshop, we’ll review “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones” by James Clear.
The main idea is that small seemingly unnoticeable actions are what really build good habits. Clear says the math works like this… Improving by 1% a day for a year results in improvement 37 times that; if you get 1% worse each day for a year, you’ll decline to nearly 0. So you can’t expect to build good habits in a week or a month or a quarter.
Good habits we recommend that business owners build:
- Meeting rhythms—monthly sales meetings, bi-weekly leadership team meetings, etc.
- Bi-monthly and monthly financial reviews
- Eating your daily frog
- Helping your people build good habits
How can Clear’s method be applied to you and your business? We break it down for you in a few easy-to-follow steps.
1. Make Small Changes
Keep in mind that most success doesn’t happen overnight, but instead is a result of small tiny changes made in our daily lives. These changes typically go unnoticed to others until they compound into results that can be tracked by ourselves and others. Wake up earlier. Make your bed. Get a standing desk in your office. Skip that second cup of coffee. Replace your weekly fast-food line with one prepared healthier alternative. These small changes don’t need to be complicated. Like any new skill, if we stay persistent in making small changes, it will eventually lead to large results.
2. Ignore the Goals
This sounds like the opposite of what we want to be doing, doesn’t it? But, it’s not. What our time and energy need to be focused on is making small changes each and every day that leads us towards our goal; the actions that get us to where we want to be–the journey and not the destination. When we focus on putting one step in front of the other, guess what? We’ll eventually get where we want to be.
3. Claim Your Identity
Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe. When we try and make small changes that are not who we identify as internally, success will likely not happen. Wanting to be someone and actually being someone are two very different ideas. Claim your identity down to your core and focus on small changes that still reflect your core beliefs and values. This will pave the way for those new, small changes to likely become daily habits.
4. Build Good Habits
When we make small changes that lead to good habits, we actually free up our time and energy by not having to constantly make small decisions. They become routine to us, therefore it’s vital that we start our process by building better habits than we had before. “The process of building a habit can be divided into 4 simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.”
A. The cue is a piece of information that indicates a reward.
B. Cravings are impulses that encourage us to act in order to change our internal state.
C. The response is our actual behavior to that impulse.
D. The reward is the result of a small change that leads to the betterment of us, and tricks our brain into wanting to keep repeating that small change.
5. Make It Obvious
The first step in changing bad habits is being aware that you have bad habits. Start by making a physical list of your daily habits and grading them with + for good, – for bad, and = for neutral. Then, replace the negatives on your list with a positive and write out how, when, and where you’ll start implementing these small changes. Research shows you’re more likely to follow a plan with clear steps and small changes that lead you towards your goal.
6. Make It Easy
Most gym owners and fitness trainers will tell you that the key to bulking up is not about creating hard, complex programs to follow every day, but instead, it’s about focusing on small changes and repetition. Stop trying to make your habits overcomplicated, and instead focus on small changes that you can easily do every day.
7. Make It Satisfying
“What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided.” In order to cement the small changes that you make and transform them into good, daily habits, we have to have immediate satisfaction in our small changes. We often won’t see the success of our good habits immediately, which is why we must focus on pairing our small changes with immediate rewards so that we continue to make the right decisions.
To build good habits, instead of trying to simply find that motivation, create a concrete plan to make small changes. Success won’t happen overnight, but this isn’t the movies.