This is part two in a series on leadership. My last article talked about the importance of building small, good habits and dropping bad habits. Let’s start the habits that will increase your leadership impact.
Change your habits if you want to improve your life.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you do need to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar
According to a study by Duke in 2006, 40% of the actions you do every day are the result of your habits, not your decisions. That means that if you want to be a better leader, you need to start by changing your habits.And the best way to change your habits is to start small.
In his book “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg talks about how important it is to build new habits one step at a time. So which habit should you start? It depends on who you want to become.
Make your new habit small.
I warned you about the urge to build some massive “super-habit.” It’s better if your new habit is a small habit. That way, it’s more likely to become a part of your routine. Newton’s first law of motion states, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion…”
In order to change your momentum, you need to apply an “unbalanced force.” In this case, that force is your new habit. It needs to be strong enough to overcome the inertia of your old habits.
If you try to change too many things at once, you’re likely to fail. You’ll be fighting an uphill battle against your old habits. But if you start small and gradually increase the intensity of your new habit, it will be more successful.
Small changes over time create big results over time.
Some examples of small habits include:
- Putting your phone far away from you while you sleep so you have to get up out of bed to turn its alarm off in the morning.
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Calling one client every day.
Charles Duhigg calls these keystone habits. They’re habits that have a ripple effect on other areas of your life. Once you’ve mastered these small habits, they’ll help you build bigger and better habits.
Make sure your new habit is relevant to your goals.
Your new habit should be relevant to your goals. That way, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. If you want to read a chapter of a book every night, leave the book on your pillow when you wake up. If you want to remember to take your vitamins, set them next to your toothbrush every night. Gosh, now I’m really hoping you brush your teeth every day…
Giving yourself a visual cue will reinforce the change you want to make by building a habit loop. The more often you do the desired behavior, the stronger the habit becomes.
The cue is the trigger that initiates the habit. The routine is the behavior itself and the reward is the satisfaction you get from completing the habit.
Make your new habit automatic.
You live so much of your life on autopilot. You drive to work without thinking about it. You brush your teeth without having to remind yourself. That’s because you’ve turned those behaviors into habits.
Your new habit should be the same way. You want it to be so ingrained in your routine that you don’t have to think about it. The less thought you have to put into it, the easier it will be to stick with it.
However, without intentionality, what’s automatic is rarely what’s most productive. So make sure your new habit is something you want to be automatic. We tend to gravitate towards what is easy, not what is healthy.
It’s important to be aware of your autopilot behaviors and make sure they are aligned with your goals.
So there you have it — start small, make your new habit relevant to your goals, give yourself a visual cue, and make it automatic. If you can do that, you’re on your way to changing your life for the better.
But don’t forget, you need to be intentional about it. Habits are not magical; they don’t happen on their own. You have to put in the work if you want to see results.
Decide when you’re going to do it
“Excellence is never an accident. Excellence is always the result of intentional and consistent habits.” — Craig Groeschel
Since it’s so important to be intentional when focusing on a better version of yourself, you need to decide when you’re going to perform your new habit.
Some examples could be:
- After I arrive at the office, I will write down my three top priorities for the day.
- After I finish a meeting, I will define an action step.
- After I get home from work, I will sit down with my family to spend quality time with them.
Remember to keep it small. Small, consistent habits determine who you will become as a leader.
Leave some feedback in the responses.
- What new habit are you going to develop?
- How will you make the habit automatic—when will you do it?
- What could hinder you from following through?
- How can you make sure that doesn’t happen?