Habitual Success

David Day

3 min read
As we dive into the New Year, there are thousands of blogs, posts, articles, and books about planning and strategy that you can read that would be really helpful to you and your business.

But this isn’t that.

Nor is this a blog post about making or keeping New Year’s resolutions, although if I were going to make a resolution, it would be to give up potato chips. I love them, and they hate me. But I keep eating them.

So whether you’re trying to lose weight or increase profits, here is my thought on how we can set and achieve our goals for the year without becoming another casualty of the New Year’s Resolution waste bucket:

Let’s not make promises and empty claims.

Instead, let’s change our habits.

They say your taste buds change every seven years.  I’m not so sure. I still love potato chips. I loved them then as a kid, and I love them now at 52. But if I have the discipline to eat carrots instead of chips for about 2-3 weeks, I’ll start craving carrots, not chips.

In business, we can get stuck doing the same things over and over with no result. We get comfortable, which in business is the first step towards dying. So in order to create change we do things like work harder, but with little payoff.

That’s sort of like me continuing to eat the Lays® and buying a new ab machine.

But what if we build new habits instead of just work harder? What if we set a small goal for our business that’s slightly more than expected, and then we achieve it? How does that feel? Success feels pretty great.

Like satisfying a craving, the feeling of accomplishment is habit-forming. That’s why productivity experts tell us to physically check off boxes or scratch through items on our list when complete. It releases hormones that make us feel better about ourselves. Biological science tells us that the same areas of the brain (the hippocampus, caudate, and insula, to be specific) that react to cravings are involved in the formation of habits, including the emotional connection to reward. When we accomplish a goal that isn’t easy, our brain cues hormones to rush in and reward us with positive emotional satisfaction. Do that enough times, and we’ve got a habit.

Here’s your to-do list:

  • Set a goal for yourself or your business that is attainable, but not too easy. Be specific.
  • Decide on the steps you need to take to make that happen.
  • Actually put those action steps on your calendar and do them.
  • Set a deadline for completion, and cross it off your list.
  • Rinse and repeat.
A godly and wise man named Donald Tabb says this:

Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a reward.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be habitually successful in 2019?

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