By Nathan Froelich
Habits have a profound effect on our lives both in business and as a professional. Charles Duhigg explains in his book, The Power of Habit, that habits are located deep in our sub-conscious and, although we don't realize it, habits dictate essentially every decision we make. Even when we think we are making a simple, conscious decision, habits are usually behind the wheel. Theses decisions include the way you step out of bed, how you answer the phone, and the way you run your business. All of these are based on and influenced by your habits.
The first step of creating new and improved habits is to have a good understanding of your current ones. Your habits have probably helped you succeed and, unfortunately, they may also be holding you back from your true potential. Have you been looking for the key to unlock your productivity? In this article we'll briefly cover some concepts and techniques that you can apply to your life.
These are habits which create a chain reaction. For example, Duhigg concludes from a case study that a woman was able to completely transform her life by deciding to stop smoking. Smoking was a keystone habit that caused a chain reaction, when she replaced smoking with jogging everything in her life was, over time, improved.
When you think about your business, what are some keystone habits that you could create or "re-arrange"? For me, the checking of my email was a keystone habit. Each morning, like most of you, I would start my computer and check my email, and thus the "chain reaction" was set into motion. Soon I was reading articles from spam email, looking into new products or services that sounded interesting, and responding to clients emails which were sent overnight. About two years ago I decided that checking my email first thing in the morning got my day off to a very poor start. A landslide of information and stress was suddenly upon me. So I replaced the habit of checking my email with the habit of writing down an action plan for the day. By doing this, checking email simply became a task on my action plan. Overtime I was able to compartmentalize all of the tasks and transform the old "chain reaction".
Duhigg suggests it is easier to replace existing habits with the new habit you'd like to insert into your life, because habits can be hard to create or build. In the example above, I replaced the habit of opening my email with making a daily action plan. Maybe you have a habit of avoiding a task such as making FSBO cold calls. In this instance, you may want to try making just one call a day without hesitation to relieve yourself from the pressure of making multiple calls. Overtime you could make more calls per day and re-write your habit of avoidance. Duhigg also teaches readers that habits have a loop, which he describes as "cue, routine, and reward." Something cues your habit such as waking up, then you perform the routine such as brushing your teeth, and then you receive the reward of a fresh feeling in your mouth. If you were to apply this principle to business you could consider arriving to the office as your cue, then your routine (habits) begin, and what follows is the reward of a sense of accomplishment or new prospects. Understanding this loop is helpful when developing and reshaping habits.
We all have work habits which we could change such as water cooler chit chat, spending time on Facebook, long lunches etc. You could consider reshaping your day with different cues, routines, and rewards. What if you were to set a timeline for your day (your cues) such as; creating a daily action planning, following up with leads, and checking email at specific time. Then comes the creation of a reward for yourself such as 20 minutes of online shopping for those new running shoes you've been hoping for. If you decided to continue the day with the same formulas such as completing marketing activities, lead generation, and then a reward, hopefully overtime your business based cues and habits will change.
When attempting to change your habits, make sure that your goals are clear in your mind and that the changes are obtainable overtime. When face to face with the dragon, remember to exercise the reward portion of the Habit Loop to assist with your victory. Overtime, you will teach your brain to learn the new habits which you have set out to obtain and forget the ones which you have chosen to loose.
In the brief video below author Charles Duhigg explains how habits work.
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