New Year is around the corner. In a few days time most of us will proclaim our new selves, based on bold goals and convincing resolutions. Needless to say, most of them are forgotten come March.
Yes, people who set New Year’s resolutions are more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t care about them in the first place. Yes, most people give up on their resolutions before the end of the first quarter.
A resolution is a decision to do something differently. A goal is the desired result. These two don’t necessary play well together without a third component — a habit.
In his book “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg writes about the habit loop:
“The habit formation within our brain is a three-step loop. … To create a new habit, put together a cue, a routine, and a reward, then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.”
If you are anything like me, you’ve had New Year’s resolutions about eating healthy, exercising more (“Obviously, we’ll loose 20 pounds” — Bridget Jones), going to bed earlier, watching less TV, learning a new hobby etc. But you see, as important as those are, neither the cues nor the rewards are strong enough to keep us going. So the routine that would build us the habit falls out of place. The habit loop — if ever born to start with — ceases to exist.
Besides, we tend to come up with way too many new habits/resolutions at once, and they become overwhelming (raise your hand if you have ever tried to go on a diet AND start exercising AND quit smoking at the same time. Mission Ambitious but Mission Impossible) And then we have “false hope syndrome” characterized by unrealistic expectations about our efforts and results and repeated self-change attempts despite previous failures. That’s why we do it all over again 365 days later.
Surprisingly few New Years’s resolutions are business related. Probably because they are tougher to accomplish than those personal ones, and the human brain is hard-wired to follow the path of least resistance. However, I would like to present to you the only resolution you will ever need to succeed in your business:
Do one thing every day that moves the needle.
I am sure that if I was to ask you what you’d need to do to grow your business, you would know exactly. I would bet my cup of black coffee (to me that is a HUGE bet!) that you are not taking those actions on a daily basis. We usually don’t, until we start thinking about them.
So I am asking you to think about it: what phone call could you make today to get one step forward on your path towards your professional dream? What event would you need to attend? Whom do you need to talk to? What do you need to do to gather the courage to approach that person? Whatever that is, how big or a small step, do SOMETHING daily that moves the needle ever so slightly. Soon enough you are in motion and that mindset is on autopilot.
Let’s go back to the habit loop theory. Once you start achieving results, the reward component of the habit loop will be strong enough and desirable enough to keep you going, regardless of how scary the routine might be (picking up the phone, talking to a potential client, asking for mentorship, you name it). If you add SMART goal thinking to the mix (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely goals), you will see the results even more clearly and the goal reaching becomes the cue.
By all means, if you have to start eating healthy, exercising and quit smoking to gain the self confidence you need to start pushing your business forward — good for you. The health benefits will follow. But don’t settle with/hide behind a resolution of taking a sewing course when what you really need is learning how to move your professional needle.
Magdalena Bibik is a Sweden based business mentor specialized in helping people grow their business by thinking differently. Interested in more about Creative Business Thinking? Visit https://creativity.house/ or contact Magdalena at firstname.lastname@example.org