How to make business habits stick?

How are those goals, those habits for your business working out for 2019?

Are you still focused on them or has the reality of 2019 and life, in general, pushed them aside and you are no longer as focused as you were 4 weeks ago, now that it’s Feb 1?

Before I share with you some ways to make your business habits stick, I want to share with you something that happened to me the other day that rarely happens when I read a book and that’s an immediate impact.

One of my big things for 2019 is to become a reader. As someone who much rather watch the movie than read the book, this isn’t easy. As someone who’s read the Cliff Notes and Monarch Notes all through high school and college, this isn’t easy.

As a father though, I want to read more so that my kids see me reading and not sitting in front of a screen all the time.

As a husband, my wife loves to read and it would be cool to read the same book and have a discussion about it.

As a business owner, reading and learning from others and being able to form my own ideas from things that I read will help me grow and help the business grow.

The first book I read this year was Atomic Habits by James Clear. Outstanding book for so many reasons which I’ll explain 2 here in a minute. The reason I read this book first was because I actually wanted to read it to help understand the why and how of better habits not just for myself, but so that I could help create better habits for my children too.

What I didn’t expect to happen was exactly what happened on Sunday, January 27th.

I went downstairs around 6:30 am put on the kettle to boil water for my coffee, check my Twitter feed from the night before, then made my cup of coffee and pulled out my wife’s Kindle and started reading.

I was up at 6:30 am on a Sunday because I was sick and my sinuses were hurting so bad that I couldn’t lay down anymore and quite honestly, it hurt to even move my eyes. I even said to myself coming down the stairs that I’m going to skip reading this morning.

So what gives? Why did I read?

Create a habit for the type of person or business you want to be

What James talks about in the book is to relate your habits to the type of person you want to be. Notice earlier that I said that I want to become a reader. Not that I want to read more.

Well, I created an environment, a system of habits, in the morning that stack upon each other that form identity-based habits.

Once I pour my cup of coffee in the morning, it’s become automatic in a sense that I sit and read my book until that first cup is done.

I’ve created this environment in the morning that sets up and leads me to the act of reading.

I read in the morning, because for me, any other time and reading tends to put me to sleep.

I use the cup of coffee as a timer of sorts so that I don’t feel obligated to read a chapter or number of pages or some other thing that could vary.

It’s a set of cues and pieces of the environment that have allowed me to become a reader because each and every day since January 1, I’ve read.

Habit stacking

Surprising to me also is this idea of habit stacking. The cup of coffee, morning time, and even what I do after I read are all tiny elements, tiny habits that I’ve created that surround the idea of me becoming a reader that’s allowed me to become one.

What I do each and every day after I read is go make another cup of coffee and then mark it down in my bullet journal that I read today.

The simple act of accountability of tracking that progress allows me to have the small win, the satisfaction of another day that put me on track to becoming a reader.

I’m floored simply because of the small changes I’ve made to my habits. So much so that I’m beginning to look at my business in the very same way. In fact, as I look at my business with these eyes, I’ve already done a few things over the years to be the business I want.

What do you want your business to be?

What do you want your identity to be?

What sort of small, impactful habits can you create to become that identity?

How can you create an environment so that it guides your good habits and forces you to avoid the bad ones?

Want clients to respect you?

Are you looking for your clients to respect your time away from business hours?

Your cue or environment factor: Then shut off your email notifications after business hours. Don’t look at email first thing in the morning. Give it 2 hours before you look at it.

Quick win: Go ahead and mark it off on your calendar that you did that.

Want clients to pay you what you want?

Set the price and don’t waiver from it.

Your cue or environment factor: If you start to have a conversation with someone that budget is going to be an issue, then change the conversation from you being their vendor into a referral for someone else.

Quick win: Celebrate passing on that project because it’s not what is right for you. Go ahead and mark it off on your calendar.

Do you want to get out from sub-contracting and managing your own clients?

Your cue or environment factor: Immediately after lunch, go have a conversation today, whether that’s email or a phone call, with potential clients

Quick win: Go ahead and mark it off on your calendar.

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