Now that the holiday festivities have wrapped up…it’s goal season for business owners! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to only do what’s essential. I tend to like new experiences, so I often find myself in the habit of taking on too much. The risk in overloading yourself is that you often end up not doing anything well…so this year my goal is to focus on the essential, both in business and in my personal life.
You want resolutions, for your life and your business, but you don’t know how to keep them. You’re not alone! Resolutions and goals are excellent, but they don’t become a reality until behaviors are changed and good habits are developed.
Making decisions is an everyday occurrence for a business owner, but it’s something that takes a huge amount of mental energy. Many of us are unaware of how much brainpower we devote daily to decision making. We want to save that energy for big decisions and changes, and leave daily functions as habits.
Any highly organized person will tell you that their day is more productive when it is planned and scheduled ahead of time (with flexibility of course). If we had to decide each step in the moment- e.g. “should I use this hour to answer emails or make calls?”- we wouldn’t get nearly as much done. The brain cannot handle processing all the details of our day as individual decisions, so it uses habits.
To implement a lasting change, we have to find the sweet spot where a repeated good decision becomes a good habit. As Aristotle famously once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
An excellent method for habit building is David A. Fields “Four Ties” Method. He suggests these steps or “ties” to make a habit stick:
1) Tie New Habits to Existing Routines
2) Tie Small Actions to Large Emotions
3) Tie Up Choices
4) Tie Down Habit-Interrupters
Have any current routines you can 100% count on yourself doing? David recommends that’s a great place to begin trying to create a new habit. For example, if my goal is to eat more greens and I already make breakfast every morning at 7 am, I can add a green smoothie to my breakfast.
Secondly, he suggests giving yourself a big emotional boost every time you achieve a small step, to implement the new habit more quickly. So the first time you make that green smoothie, text a friend that you know will be a cheerleader for you, or post a picture of it on your Instagram and feel the “like” love.
We live in the choice paradox–too many choices mean too many decisions. So why not cut some of them out? David recommends setting some things in stone, leaving no option for a choice. For example, “No work after 6 pm every day, no matter what.” You’d be surprised as to how much a commitment like this can help, not hinder, your productivity.
Ahh, the infamous “I’m going to do X dreaded task now and get it done…right after I check my email.” David advises blocking out all interrupters when you are attempting to work on your habit. If you blog on a regular basis, a great example would be to fight the urge at all costs to edit while writing your first draft. Writing is a right-brained activity and editing is left-brained, so editing while writing makes your brain switch gears and slows you down.
Set some awesome goals for 2023, both personal and professional…and then make note of which ones can become ingrained habits. Try using David Fields’ “Four Ties Method” or James Clears’ “Atomic Habits” to make those habits stick and take your year to the next level! What are some of your 2023 goals?