I’m going to take a quick break from discussing the marketing tactics to write about one topic that I’m passionate about.
Wait, don’t go yet…
Habits can be really interesting, but they comes with a lot of baggage.
Much of that baggage comes from being critical about our bad habits.
Staying out late, consuming too much, not doing something we know we should.
Recently I watched a presentation from a friend of mine, Amy Hoy, about habits (the second and third videos on the page).
One quote really, really stood out to me. That’s that 40% of what we do everyday isn’t actual decisions but habits.
I thought I understood habits. I know I put my shoes on one way. I walk down the stairs exactly one way (kind of like hopping… it’s awkward looking).
But 40% of what I do everyday? That’s a lot.
It made me really think: if I’m accomplishing X right now and I can turn my unnoticed habits into helpful habits, could I accomplish 40% more? 100%?
One success I’ve had with forming better habits has been around the habit that everyone fails at: exercise.
After three or four years of trying to form an exercise habit, something would always knock me off it.
- I’d get sick
- I’d hurt myself
- Winter would come (thanks for the heads-up, Ned Stark)
I enjoyed exercising. I knew the value of it. I enjoyed the time alone.
But no matter how much I wanted it, it wasn’t sticking.
Then I heard the recommendation from three different sources to scale back my habit. Instead of building a habit of running for 30 minutes a day or doing 20 minutes of strength training, I should scale back. Way back.
Do 1 push up. Or 1 yoga pose for 60 seconds.
But that was their point. Who doesn’t have the ability to spend 1 minute each day doing something they enjoy and want to do?
More than laughing at it, I decided to actually try it…
…they were right.
I’m now on a 95 day streak of doing at least one push up per day. That’s over three months of exercise without missing a single day.
This has become completely automatic for me. I say goodnight to my wife, go into my office, do 4 minutes of yoga (24 day streak), and finish with 1 push up. The magic is what happens next. Since I’m already down there, I might as well do another push up. If I feel like it, maybe another. I stop whenever I feel like it, as long as I did one.
It’s automatic. It’s become a habit that I don’t have to even think about anymore.
Or as Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit calls it: I have a solid cue (saying goodnight), my routine, and my reward (feeling I did one thing for my body today).
And this habit has stuck through traveling, illness, exhaustion, and a cranky toddler.
Cycling this back to something practical now.
Look at your business. See what areas and routines you have already where you can turn into a habit. (Amy’s videos can also help you with this)
Perhaps you can create a procedure or system around a process that you have to do.
Look at your schedule. Find the times you have energy and when you don’t. Are you more creative in the morning or afternoon or night? Can you create a habit that meshes with your own personal schedule so that it benefits your business?
What about your marketing? As I’ve said before, marketing should be a repeatable process. You should always be working on it, even if in just small doses. But without creating a habit around it, marketing can feel like tedious and dreadful work – especially when you have client work or something else you’d rather be doing.
But every day that I don’t write, it becomes that much harder to write the next day. It becomes harder to restart the habit after it was stopped.
Take this week to look at your habits and see what you can improve.
P.S. My all-time favorite book on habits is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. If you want to read only one book on habits, this is the one. Another book, Mini Habits, was the third source where I heard about doing very tiny habits. If you struggle with keeping a habit, I highly recommend trying this process. It’s what has kept me on exercise.
P.P.S. If you’re curious, I picked 3 mini-habits. Write 50 words per day, 1 push up per day, and read 1 article per day. If I need to, I can cram all of them into 5 minutes before I go to bed.