As we move into the summer season and we figure out the “new” normal, it’s a good time for each of us to break free of our frozen habits and embrace growth and change.
That’s easier said than done following the virus pandemic. But the same level of thinking that got you where you were isn’t the same level that will get you where you want to be.
Habits, both good and bad, compound over time. One way to think about the power of compounding is the example of a penny. If you double a penny every day for 30 days, it compounds to $10.7 million. Albert Einstein said it best when he said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.”
To help build positive new habits that will compound over time, consider the following self-help goals.
Before you tackle your business, you have to understand yourself. What drives you? What are your values? What are your non-negotiables in a world that demands compromise? Take a deep inner dive to fully understand what makes up your bedrock and what you want for (and from) your business. That self-awareness will help you adopt good habits and shed poor ones.
Have a Living Business Plan
When’s the last time you really looked at your business plan? Rather than a stale document gathering dust in a drawer, it should be a living road map of actionable goals and deadlines. Just as you frequently consult your GPS when heading into unfamiliar territory, you should constantly review your business plan. There’s no better forecasting tool if you use it correctly, so block just five minutes each morning and evening to review and adjust it.
Be a Student of Your Calendar
Time may seem like it’s out of your control, but when you master your calendar, you can own and protect those precious minutes and hours. Instead of blocking things by the hour, break everything into micro segments of minutes and even seconds. Then, schedule one or two 15-minute sessions each day to knock off a bunch of those quick to-dos like responding to texts, replying to emails, scheduling meetings, and making follow-up calls. You’ll get more done and you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment by completing so many tasks — and that positive reinforcement will keep you moving forward.
Take a good, long look at yourself the same way you’d critique one of your employees or co-workers.
Control Your Time
In addition to controlling your calendar, you really can control (much of) your time. Take a good, hard look at all the time-wasters you deal with each day: the recounting of the weekend, the Monday morning quarterbacking, the critiquing of that movie you just saw. Those things may just take a few minutes here and there, but it adds up. And not only does the idle talk distract you from your immediate task, but it takes time to get your focus back to the important stuff.
The next time someone wants to chat about anything you find distracting in the moment, set some good parameters by saying, “Hey, I’d love to talk to you about this, but I’m on deadline. Can we catch up later? If we need to discuss some business, let’s put it on the calendar.”
Fire and Rehire Yourself Each Month
Take a good, long look at yourself the same way you’d critique one of your employees or co-workers. Do you like what you see? If you’re brutally honest, you’ll probably find at least one fire-able offense. Write it down, then go ahead and fire yourself.
Now, take a minute to write one reason and one characteristic of why you’re going to rehire yourself. Take it further and write down all of the reasons you would fire yourself, and all the reasons you’d hire yourself back. Be very specific and measurable.
This simple exercise helps raise our self-awareness of what we’re doing right and also what’s holding us back. Understanding and breaking unhelpful patterns is key to developing new habits.
Adopt Morning and Night Rituals
Bookend each day with a ritual that’s for you and only you. Wake up 10 minutes earlier, but don’t turn on your phone or look at your computer. Instead, take a walk (inside or out), meditate, write in a journal or idea book, or just sit and stare into space.
Before you leave the office or turn off the light for the night, take just two minutes to reflect on your day. What went right? What could have gone better? What’s happening tomorrow? Don’t push off this seemingly unproductive time with the excuse that you’re too busy. These few “stolen” minutes are among the most crucial in your day.
Good habits come slowly. Rather than trying to overhaul your routines all at once, pick just one or two from this list to start with, then give it your all. As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar put it, “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”
Jon Dwoskin is founder and CEO of The Jon Dwoskin Experience, a multifaceted business and executive consulting firm in Huntington Woods. He’s also an author, speaker, and podcast host.