Building Habits!

Often in business as in life we spend ages deliberating and avoiding how to break old habits – the ill serving ones that keep us busy, make us unhealthy or prevent our brilliance from shining through. Is it time to build some new habits!

What is the definition of a habit – according to the dictionary

  • a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
  • something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it:

A regular action or activity that can be both good or bad, depending on what it is. With that in mind I was asked for some great habit building methods – the following are the ones that hold the most resonance for me at the moment.

Make it daily with a buddy – This has to be the foundation point for all habit creation in my humble opinion, everyone can say I would like – it would be great to – I’m going to etc. etc. However actually sticking to something and being held accountable is another story entirely – Make it daily, whatever ‘it’ happens to be set the environment so that you can do ‘it’ daily.

As we all know just keeping it to ourselves will not necessarily make you successful in creating the new habit – by having a buddy partner the probability of success goes up dramatically. Think about it, giving someone permission to give you a hard time if you are found wanting and not sticking to the target, Day in Day out!

Creating a new habit from nothing feels hugely onerous and challenging, just saying this is the way I will act for the rest of my life is just too big to stick, and as a result – the burden of the goal will crush the new habit before its even gotten going. Commit to thirty days to begin with – that’s all, 30 days of doing ‘it’. That’s just 30 times, it’s not for life its 30 times. Much research has been done into how long it takes to create a new habit – some say 21 days, others 18 – 66 or even 256. Clearly it depends – on the size of the habit, the change to what is currently normal, the current way of working. Everyone is different every new habit is different – doing 30 days will give you a great start that then becomes another 30 days and so on.

This is not a black and white sum, failure is an option because perfection is not the goal. I’m not talking here about changing an addictive habit such as giving up smoking or drinking. The focus here is on creating a new habit. This means you can be Imperfect – run it as an experiment. For example, if your target was activity related, many people have these wonderful or irritating step counters and a new habit of 10000 steps per day is created from nowhere. People are walking the streets at ten o’clock a night trying to get the daily gaol in place. Let’s look at this more constructively, if imperfection is allowed then in month 1 if out of the 30 days available your target is achieved 25 times that’s a success rate of over 80% not a bad start. Clearly on those days when 10000 isn’t achieved you are aware of what has taken place and will have an average for the month – imperfection is allowed, be forgiving of yourself.

This is all focused on creating a constructive Habit LOOP – Routine – Reward – Cue / Trigger – build the routine, maybe add in a conservative reward (not always food or drink related) The question here is what is your cue or trigger? What starts you off on this new habit? Can you create a morning ritual where every day before you can do ‘y’ you must do ‘x’? ‘y’ is something you have always done, something you enjoy doing but in order to do it you must have done the other thing ‘x’ first. This almost sounds like eating the ugly vegetables from your plate before you have the meat when you were a child, in some ways that is exactly how this works. Choose a translation of this that works for you. Everything is just a theory until you make it real to you.

Final element for you here is to eliminate excessive options and temptation, if you have created a shopping list of options and habits to build and get involved in from day one again chances are you will fail. Small stepping stones are required, only have a couple of options at one time. Once a habit is taking toot and is becoming established only then should you consider new ones or adding extra.

The bonus challenge here is understanding the pain of not sticking to or succeeding with your new habits, you must be aware of the consequences. Create a trap or a bigger target. For example, at Christmas what will it look like feel like to be sitting at your significant table with a massive smile on your face because you have established this new habit! Make it a real success. Every year my family challenge each other – what are the three things you are proudest to have achieved this year and what are the three things you will have achieved by this time next year. Simple goal setting I hear you say – correct. What habits need to be created in order to make this happen. Wishful thinking is just that. Make it happen – get help to keep you true to what you want to build!! First Step – make it daily with a buddy and see what you can develop from there! Good Luck.


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