They say that getting rid of a habit can be one of the hardest things a person has to do in their life.
Drinking, swearing, gambling, other stuff…
Shaking a habit like this can seem almost impossible, but just how easy was it to start?
Repetitive behaviours get a bad rep, and the word ‘habit’ has all sorts of negative connotations, but at 20:80e, sometimes we like to flip an idea on its head, so let’s do just that with the idea of feeding the habit.
That’s right, we’re not talking about getting rid of a habit, you can do what you like in your spare time (if you ever get any…) Instead, we’re talking about making even more habits.
It is estimated that it takes anywhere between 21 and 264 days for a person to form a new ‘habit’. Don’t ask us which team of scientists and sociologists worked all of that out, but we’ll trust Dr Google on this one. That leaves us with quite a big range, but anywhere in between those two bookends isn’t really a great deal of time anyway, is it?
Let’s call it half a year for argument’s sake, steering on the conservative side of estimates.
So, that’s half a year to form a new habit, through repetitive behaviours and reinforced actions.
What’s all this got to do with business?
Well, habits can be the keys to success.
You might tell yourself that you’ll get up early in the morning to answer all your emails and box off all your invoices before 9am, leaving you with a full day at the coal face, but how often do you actually do this? Maybe it lasts a day, a week, two weeks at a stretch, but ultimately, you revert back to hitting the snooze button, and before too long you’re dealing with correspondence when you could really do with dealing with everything else…
What about that promise you made to yourself to get away from the laptop and the office for an hour or two every day? You even took out the gym membership to give you somewhere to go, and whilst you may have started like a house on fire, with PT, four sessions a week and a Sports Direct splurge, you’re now only going every week or two.
The motivation just isn’t there for long enough, is it?
And that is why you have to force it. If it’s going to become habit, it has to be encouraged in the early stages, until it becomes an automatic behaviour.
Those really annoying people you know, the ones who are up and out for a run at 6am every day, they might say they do it for the love of it, but don’t tell us that they wouldn’t like another hour or two under the covers like the rest of us. They do it automatically, because when they started, and felt their motivation start to dip, they just stuck in there and did it anyway.
“When you feel like stopping, remember why you started…”
That’s an important phrase to recite to yourself, during the early stages of picking up a new habit, because motivation is finite, and you can’t rely on the phenomenon of ‘motivation’ to fuel you to your destination, you’ve got to force it.
What sort of habits could serve you well in the world of business then?
We need to identify habits that serve you, facilitate efficiency and boost productivity.
Here’s a few suggestions…
We’ve already mentioned it, but go the gym, run, walk…move! Exercise is so good for you, you already know that, and it can boost your mental wellbeing too, helping you to stay on top of your game in the business domain, as well as in terms of physical fitness and health. Keep getting up, keep going to the gym. Eventually, and maybe even within the month if you have an addictive personality, it won’t feel like a drag and you’ll be doing it on autopilot. Schedule your time slots, set alarms, feed the habit.
Keeping a tidy desk, or even a tidy desktop, that’s another habit that could serve you well in business. Set a time each day, maybe not right before you finish up, to clear everything away to its right place. File your physical paperwork, move those desktop pinned documents to the right folders, throw away your litter! How many times have you looked around your office (or your car) and wondered how on earth it got so messy in such a short space of time? The food packaging, letters, leaflets and general bumf are all there because you put them there, out of habit! So, switch it up for a different habit, a habit that serves you. It might take some time for it to become automatic, as being messy is easier than being tidy, but once it does become automatic, you’ll save yourself time and stress. The same goes for your email inbox! Why have you got 1,367 unread emails?! Start a new habit of deleting or filing your emails, every single day, until it becomes automatic.
Don’t have the time?
Sorry, but you absolutely do. Remember, habits are formed through things that we do often, but little and often works fine.
Whether it’s an hour at the gym before lunch, or five minutes a day moving emails to the right folders. It might even be cleaning the foot well of your car out!
Forming a new habit could be the key to unlocking the next level of your success.
Test yourself, see how long it takes before you catch yourself doing something on auto pilot.
Now, we should probably follow this up with some sort of Public Service Announcement about the other types of habits, mentioned at the start of this post. You know, about vice and all that. Habits are bad, etc. etc.
But after all that meticulous tidying, decluttering and exercising, you’re bound to need a little drink, right?!