What's the #1 way to make change in your life?
August 28, 2021
It was a close call!
The car coming up behind us, and one passing us in the opposite direction on the left, created for great drama and some nail biting as my daughter Sophia pulled sharply into the middle turn lane and flipped her turn signal "up", signaling a right hand turn, while we attempted to make a left hand turn.
We made it around the corner... and thankfully it was a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood near my daughter's high school.
As we pulled over to the side of the street after her first harrowing experience as a new driver, I explained (not quite as calmly as I make it sound) that this is exactly why you must wait six months after getting your driver's permit before you can get a driver's license... practice, practice, practice.
While practice may not always make perfect, repetition is the key to building habits.
Sophia would eventually flip the turn signal "down" to make a left hand turn every time... because through repetition she will have made it a habit and her brain won't even think about it any more. It will be an automatic action.
But how long will it actually take Sophia to make that turn signal habit "automatic"?
According to research published in the late 1980's, a behavior becomes habitual when it's been "repeated both frequently (at least twice a month) and extensively (at least 10 times)."
This fits with a generally accepted claim that I've heard many times, that it takes roughly 21 days to form a habit (2 x 10).
However, more recently published research conducted in the UK in the late 1990's suggests that habit formation takes three times longer, on average about 66 days.
The #1 Way to Make Change
“Every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions, walking by walking, and running by running . . . therefore, if you want to do something, make a habit of it.”
Epictetus, 50-135 AD
Whether it's 21 days or 66 days, we all know from experience that actions we repeat over and over again eventually become effortless, done without much thought...a habit.
Putting on your seat belt, the drive to work and back, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and putting the garbage can out every Monday night for Tuesday morning pickup.
This is the very same process that will move you from where you are now in your life, personally and professionally, to where you want to go.
After 15 years of operating my business "the way I've always done it", and very, very tired of the struggle that "doing the same thing" always got me, I decided to make a change.
I started by building a "Leadership Team" from current and newly hired employees to help me run the company (rather than feeling like I had to "do it all" myself).
We establish a vision for where we wanted the company to be in 5 years.
We clarified our core values... what we stood for, believed in, and wanted our organization to behave like.
Lastly, and critically important to our success, we implemented a process of operating the business based on the following set of habits:
- Each quarter we established goals to accomplish our 1-year goals, and each year we established 1-year goals to accomplish our 3-year goals.
- We met every Monday morning for 90 minutes.
- The full company met once each month.
- We tracked key performance indicators (KPIs) every week, i.e. those metrics that had the greatest positive (and negative) impact on our business.
- We reviewed our quarterly goals every two weeks to make sure we were on track to accomplish them.
- We documented as many key processes as possible so they could be repeated over and over with greater accuracy, consistency, timeliness.
NOTHING we did was all that revolutionary, exotic, or hard to do.
But making what we did a habit each day, each week, each month, and each year is what made the difference between my first 15 years of stress and struggle and the last 2 years of incredible progress for my business, culminating in the sale to three members of my Leadership Team.
“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Aristotle, 384-322 BC
Make a commitment to create the business that you've always dreamed of owning... one that provides you with much more freedom than you have today.
Include in that commitment the formation of many, many habits around best practices and time tested, well established business strategies and you will slowly but surely move your business from where it is today to where you want it to be in the future.
This is the #1 way to make the change you've committed to make.
If there is anything that I can do to help you on this journey, please let me know.
Until then, stay focused on your freedom!
See Podcast: #005 What Is the #1 Way to Make Change in Your Life?