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How to get into good habits


By talking now about habits, however, all I’ve done is move the challenge from hitting goals to forming habits. Creating habits is a challenge all of its own. It’s generally accepted that it takes anything from a few weeks to over 200 days before an action or a suite of actions becomes so ingrained that you don’t have to second guess yourself and you can trust yourself to do it as regularly as cleaning your teeth. That’s a lot of days for things to go wrong.

That’s the first challenge. Katy Milkman in her book “How to Change” calls it the “what the hell” moment. You’re so off track (perhaps almost immediately!) in effect you’ve let yourself down so much that you just give up, or worse, go out with a bang! Plan how you’re going to start, make it very easy to start and importantly, in your plan, give yourself the wriggle room to fail a bit. And let’s be honest, if you’re not going to like the journey, you’re not going to follow the plan. However important the ambition, the goal, if you don’t see intermediate results pretty quickly and/or you don’t like the process, you’re going to give this plan up for something more immediately rewarding. I’ve kidded myself too often. I now have to admit that I’m like everybody else; I’m no saint nor super-hero. In fact, I’d much rather have an easy, quiet life. So that habit had better become something I want to do in the here and now. For example, who wants to get up at 05.30 to do a 13 mile fast walk on a cold, wet, windy winter’s day in the dark? Not me! Unless I’ve found that I feel better for the rest of the day once I’ve done it and I can eat what I like without dieting. And it’s in good company with a nice chat plus an absorbing podcast. OK, yes. I’ll do that. Multiple times a week.

Other challenges you’ll encounter are laziness, forgetfulness, lack of confidence and lack of support.

If you want a habit to stick, make it easier to follow the right thing rather than doing anything else. For example, I find updating my CRM a chore but so also is using my mobile to contact new people. I’ve found that if I put my networking contacts in my CRM I can easily phone them through my laptop by clicking a button. And I have a record of when I’ve tried to contact them and what was said when I have got hold of them. This is so much easier than calling off a cold list. So I get to do more warm calls and keep my CRM system up to date, all at once. Bundling things together to make more than one task easier means making my dialing habit much more likely!

Can you really forget to do an important, even critical job? Oh, yes, of course it’s easy. Have you ever forgotten a doctor’s appointment or a call with a client? How do you make sure you don’t forget your new action that you want as a habit? Plan a cue. Think what will happen just before your new action and that becomes the cue. For example, when I wanted to remember a kitchen chore for my wife, I made putting on my coffee and toast the cue. Can’t forget now. I mean, am I likely to forget breakfast? For a new business task, think about where it’ll fit in your existing routines and make a cue. “When I [cue} I’ll [new habit] which means [good result]”

Lack of confidence is huge. You know what to do, you know how to do it, you know that it’s important, but if you’re lacking in confidence to do it, you’ll make excuses. Guaranteed. Katie Milkman makes a great suggestion. Give advice to someone else as to how to achieve it. In effect, find a mentee and by guiding them you’ll be reminding yourself how you can achieve what you set out to do. And that mentee could even be yourself!

And lastly, make sure you mix with the right crowd. Find other people who are slightly ahead of you. Not too far ahead. Exercising with an Olympic athlete for example would be a waste of time- in fact it would put you off very quickly and we’re back to the “What the hell.” Find an accountability group that will gently challenge you but also support your efforts.

If you’d like help with your habits and goals and you’re based in Surrey, Berkshire, Kent, Hampshire or Sussex, contact me and we’ll see if I can help!

Paul Glynn

Paul Glynn

Sandler trainer