3 Steps to developing habits to succeed in business and in life

I’ve just finished reading a book called “Triggers” by Marshall Goldsmith, a book about creating behaviour that lasts and becoming the person you want to be. This book explains in detail how you can change and maintain your behaviours to achieve success in business and in life, and it’s a great read.

One of my biggest takeouts from the book is how to go from being a planner to a doer…. Which is a fundamental part of life that many people, including myself, can underestimate.

After all, we all know that planning is important. In business we have plans… marketing plans, financial plans, growth plans. And in life, we have plans too… we wake up each day and say to ourselves “Today I am going to go to the gym after work, cook a healthy dinner, and tidy the house before bed”. So that’s great, we have a plan that the motivated “morning leader” in us has decided. So how do we change our behaviour so the less motivated “afternoon follower” actually follows through and takes those actions?

As Goldsmith writes in his book, there are going to be many triggers throughout our day that lure us into behaving in a way that is opposite to the plans we have, and the person we want to be. Changing the habit of allowing our self to become the “follower” and allowing outside influences to get in the way of our goals isn’t a quick and easy fix. But there are steps you can take that can, over time, change your habits.

Hold yourself accountable – not for the result, but accountable for your effort.

Often we judge ourselves by the outcome of what we do, which can lead us to feel like a failure or putting things in the 'too hard' basket. It can actually be far more productive to hold ourselves accountable for the amount of effort we are putting in to achieve each goal, then incrementally improve on that effort level to change the habit.

Goldsmith suggests the best way to start holding yourself accountable for your effort is to set yourself some active questions that you need to answer at the end of each day and give yourself a score out of 10. These questions should start with "Did I do my best to" and an example is as follows:

Did I do my best to:

  • Exercise
  • Spend time with my kids
  • Say something positive to an employee?
  • Eat healthy food
  • Get to meetings on time
  • Work through my to-do list

In the same way that practicing gratitude each day can reinforce the habit of feeling happy, scoring yourself on your effort each day can reinforce the habit of putting in an effort and improving your output. For example you might find that for the first two weeks the score you give yourself for exercising is only a 2 on most days, but you can add in a brisk walk with the dog to bring that up to 5, and incrementally work up from there. It's about consistently reinforcing our commitment and motivation.


Practice doing, to get better faster

Scoring yourself each day on your effort level can start reinforcing desirable behaviours, and the more you practice the better you will get. Doing these questions daily compel us to take things one day at a time and give us manageable objectives. They help us focus on effort and distract us from obsessing about results. We can trust in the process and know that change is happening.

According to Goldsmith, daily questions remind us that:

  • Change doesn't happen overnight
  • Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out
  • If we make the effort, we will get better. If we don't, we won't.


Use a coach to help you stay the course

A coach can help us bridge the gap between being the planner to be the doer, as they are an objective outsider who is not caught up in the day to day humdrum of our life. A coach can remind us of our original intentions and recall times where we took action and help summon the will to do so again.

A great example of a coach in life is when we want to get in shape so we hire a personal trainer. It's not that we aren't capable of exercising on our own, but we know that we are far less likely to hit snooze on the alarm if we know there is another human being making the effort to be there and train us. Not to mention the fact we are paying them to do so. A personal trainer gets us out of bed and holds us accountable for our actions.

In day to day life you can choose someone close to you to act as a 'coach' and keep you accountable for your Active Questions list. Someone who you can simply report into and let them know how your scores are going each week to make sure they are incrementally increasing and you haven't fallen off the wagon.

As business coaches the team at Action Centre believe strongly in the benefits of mindset and coaching, so If you'd like to read more of “Triggers” by Marshall Goldsmith, and develop the habits to truly succeed in business, contact us below for a catchup and we'll reserve you a free copy.

You’ll find having an Action Centre business coach is just like having a marketing manager, sales team leader, trainer and recruitment specialist - wrapped in one - all for one nominal investment. We are the business partner you need without sharing your profits - with over 60 years of collective coaching experience to keep you on track and accountable for your own success.

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