Humans are creatures of habit. This might not be a ground-breaking revelation, but the extent to which we are controlled by our habits is remarkable. According to a study conducted by Duke University, over 40% of our decisions are habitually made rather than consciously decided.
If our habits are bad, this could be pretty scary! But the good news is that we can, with effort, change our habits and even influence them to work in our favour. Aristotle famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”, and we agree. If business excellence is your goal, then we suggest practicing the following business habits.
1. Write your $10 million cheque
In 1985, Jim Carrey wasn’t yet the world-famous comedy actor he is today. Instead, he was a struggling comedian finding it hard to make ends meet. Despite the precariousness of his situation, he wrote himself a cheque worth $10 million for “acting services rendered” and dated it for 10 years into the future. It just so happened that in 1995 he shot to fame in the $247 million dollar movie Dumb and Dumber. This story exemplifies the visualisation techniques recommended by so many business psychologists. The secret to visualisation is the details – Carrey identified success as a specific amount of money being attained at a specific point in time and for a specific skillset. So instead of chasing some vague idea of success, start visualising precisely what success looks like for you.
2. Schedule me-time into your calendar
Organisations of all kinds depend on the performance of people. Therefore, it makes sense that if you are not taking care of yourself, your business will suffer. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because not only are business owners generally run off their feet, but too often they wear the status of workaholic as a badge of honour. This is an outdated concept that only leads to poor decision making, bad management and ultimately becoming burnt out. How to beat these business blues is to regularly schedule “me-time” into your calendar, as you would any other task. You can spend this time meditating, exercising, indulging in a hobby and/or spending time with family. The only rule is that it cannot be work-related!
3. Set goals for your day
At New Frontiers, we love business plans. After all, how can you get to where you want to go unless you know the way! Short-term and long-term goals are necessary stepping stones to success, but great business leaders take the practice of goal-setting to the next level with daily goals. Trying to achieve success can be a daunting task when it is perceived as a singular overarching target looming in the distance. However, if you construct success as the achieving of daily “wins” that keep you going in the direction of that “mega goal”, then not only are you much more likely to get there but you won’t pull all your hair out along the way!
4. Eat the frog!
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
This often-quoted line from Mark Twain only grows in prominence as our world becomes increasingly demanding. There are a hundred and one tasks you could be doing on any given day as a business owner, but how do you decide which one to tackle first? Twain is suggesting to start with the task you want to do the least and many business leaders agree. Brian Tracy, in his book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, advocates this time management technique and highlights that it should not only be the least appetising task that you act on first but also the one which will create the biggest positive impact on your life once it is completed.
5. Surround yourself with talented people
Entrepreneurship is often depicted as a lonely road and it can be, but wise entrepreneurs ensure that it isn’t. Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. By surrounding yourself with the right people, you get access to new perspectives, fresh ideas, different skillsets and alternative opinions. In the fast-paced world of business, developing tunnel vision will dramatically impede your development. But with the right people on your side, you can spot new industry trends on the horizon and become aware of great opportunities that otherwise would have passed you by. Whether they’re peers in your network, people on your team or a business mentor, as long as you are continually having conversations about your industry with talented people, you and your business will continue to grow and develop.
What about you? What habit has kept you both sane and successful? Or what habit do you really want to develop but have been unable to?
About the author
Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.