By Roger Pierce, the voice of Scotiabank's Get Growing for business website. Author, speaker and columnist, Roger has become one of Canada's top small business experts by sharing what he's learned from building 12 companies.
Nothing separates dreamers from achievers more than habit. The world's most successful athletes, politicians, entertainers, authors and entrepreneurs aren't necessarily more talented than others - they've simply developed better habits.
Fortunately, we can control our habits - with a bit of effort.
Using repetition and self-discipline, you can help your conscious mind to train your subconscious to accept a new behaviour. Once a desired behaviour moves from your conscious or "active" mind into your more "automatic" subconscious mind, it should stick.
For example, let's say you want to get into the habit of calling three potential customers every morning. Such a consistent daily effort could, over time, generate millions of dollars for your business.
Discipline is required to start the process each day. You've got to arrive by 9 a.m., have three names ready to call, and actually dial the telephone - whether you feel like doing it or not. A commitment or intention to complete a task isn't sufficient; we need self-discipline to start the process each time.
It varies from person to person, but some experts believe we can form new habits within weeks. Repetition helps to move the behaviour from the conscious mind to the subconscious; once there, the desired conduct will flow more naturally without being forced.
What about bad habits? Forget about those resolutions we make each New Year: It's far easier to replace a bad habit than it is to eliminate one.
For example, a dieter might replace his late-night snack of potato chips with carrot sticks. The habit remains, but the content has changed.
To change your ways, start by creating a short list of habits you'd like to replace over the next year. Don't try to change more than one habit at a time. Pick one and focus your conscious mind on the modified routine until it sticks. For example:
It's normal to fail during an attempt to change a habit. It's not always easy...especially if we're trying to change something we've done all our lives! Assess what went wrong and identify any corrections before you try it again. Find support and motivation by announcing your habit-changing intentions and plans to people who care about you.
Reward yourself once your new habit takes hold. Then, tackle the next habit on your list.
Are you planning to change any habits this year?
By Roger Pierce
Posted on Jan 14, 2013 2:53:22 PM