I truly believe that the extent of your success is your good habits minus your bad ones — if we had to put it simply. The typical bad habits you might think of are habits like unhealthy eating, excessive drinking and smoking, etc. But the truth is that we’ve all got hundreds of different habits we are not even consciously aware of. The problem with this is that they affect every aspect of our lives! Are you getting in your own way without realizing?
Of course, it isn’t difficult to see how some of our habits affect our personal lives, but the fact that they actually play a huge role in your professional success isn’t initially as obvious. With entrepreneurship comes independence, and with that comes a lot of responsibility — without a boss to set the rules, deadlines, and consequences, you’re left more vulnerable than ever to letting your bad habits take over!
If you’re running your own business, or making preparations to, then trying to change your bad habits can seem like something that isn’t urgent and that can be dealt with later. Leaving your bad habits on the back-burner can have a huge impact on how successfully you get your work done and how effectively you manage your company. It’s because of this that getting a more in-depth understanding of your obstacles and how to deal with them is of the utmost importance.
Where do you start? Drop the traditional and somewhat boring exercises you can find online and start by distinguishing between goal-directed responses and context-cue responses. This distinction is crucial to your achievements as an entrepreneur.
The Intentional Mind Versus The Habitual Mind
In a study published in the Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin (2011) Neal, Wood, Wu, and Kurlander examined the battle between the intentional and habitual minds that exists in every one of us. At the beginning of the study, the participants were able to clearly distinguish between stale and fresh popcorn. Yet, when they were presented with popcorn in a movie theatre, those who habitually ate popcorn at the movies ate the popcorn whether it was fresh or not. In other words, the urge to comply with habit was stronger than the adverse reaction that the participants might have had from the stale popcorn.
What’s the “stale popcorn” in your life?
Can you think of any situations in which your habitual mind won over your intentional mind? If you’ve ever opted to browse through Facebook instead of getting all your work-related calls done or chosen to stay up late watching a movie instead of getting some sleep for an important meeting the next day, then you have.
If you set yourself some goals or have intentions and then you don’t rise to the challenge and instead give into your old habits, you are playing a win-lose game with yourself. Don’t say you want to be successful and then run away from the things that will make you more successful.
However, if you are setting intentions to change habits, you take action, and you still find it difficult to follow through, there may be conflicting goals which you are unaware of. It is because of these conflicting goals that action becomes difficult, so start by digging deeper into yourself to discover what’s really going on. We get in our own way without realizing when we do things in conflict with where we want to go in life. In business, you can risk doing this.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How many intentions have you set and then not followed through on? Really, take a minute and reflect on it — from procrastinating to empty promises, everything. Get an average number per week of how often you do this.
- How do you feel about yourself? Not so good I guess, so why keep doing it?
- What would it take for you to throw away the “stale popcorn” in your life and tackle your less obvious but damaging habits?
Here is the truth
The more you listen to your weaker voice (habitual voice), the louder it will get and vice versa. So make the voice of intention louder and rise to the challenges you know will lead you to more success.
If you can’t even control your own habits, what makes you think you can run your own business?
It would seem really silly to undermine your success by ignoring the habits that might be sabotaging it. Warren Buffett has said that “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” The earlier you get ahead of the potential problems that your habits can have for your business, the easier it will be for you to create a sustainable and much more pleasant road to success!
Featured photo credit: Abigail Keenan via unsplash.com