Has this ever happened to you?
You get inspired by a TED talk, a dramatic speech, or a great idea, got really excited to do something about it.
But you don’t follow-through. And you find yourself doing the same thing you did before. In short, you fall into old habits.
Habits rule our lives. Much of what we do is habitual—the way we go to work, where we go to lunch, what we do for fun.
But habits aren’t fixed. We can change them. To do that, we need to break old habits and then build new ones.
This takes action, follow-through.
But procrastination can stop us from following through—short-circuiting our efforts to affect change.
Below are 5 things you can do to spur follow-through and jump-start efforts to create new habits.
1. Set Goals or Non-Negotiables That Drive You
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I believe in goal setting.
But there’s a trick to setting goals. It’s simple.
Set a goal (or goals) that drive and challenge you.
It helps spur follow-through.
Make these goals realistic, possible, flexible, measurable, and controllable.
For example, I have had a personal obsession with golf for quite a few years. One season, I was determined to make measurable progress. I set a goal to reach a single-digit handicap. It was a goal that pushed and challenged my abilities, but was within reach.
Throughout the summer, I made improvements. I would make progress, fall back a little, but continued moving forward.
By the end of the summer, I had reached my goal.
Websites like Joesgoals, Stickk, and 43things can help you keep track of your goals.
Or if you don’t like goals, give The Art of The Non Negotiable a try.
2. Get Support From A Group
People who get support when trying to stop habits like smoking are more successful than those that don’t get support.
I feel I’m pretty self-driven, but I realize that to create better habits in both my personal and professional life that a support group was necessary.
For my golfing goals I told friends and family about my goal to achieve a single-digit handicap. They encouraged me. They pushed me to keep practicing. And I felt responsible to make it not just for myself, but to prove to them that I could do it.
In my professional life, I’ve joined group, like the Entrepreneur’s Organization, which has been a great way to get support in the business world.
Support groups, whether in person or online, provide the support you need to change.
3. Set Yourself Up For Success
Using a step-by-step approach sets you up for success. That in turn encourages follow-through.
The Simple Method is a sure-fire way of beating procrastination and kick-start new habits that last.
Once you’ve ingrained the new habit, use the Simple Method to create other positive habits.
Here’s an overview of the simple method:
- Develop a plan
- Pick a small positive activity
- Do the activity immediately (for 4-6 weeks)
- Build in positive feedback
- Report daily to a group (social or otherwise)
- Test, Adjust, Iterate Immediately
Using a step-by-step approach creates a habit of taking action. Action drives results.
4. Disconnect & Review
At an Entrepreneur’s Organization event, I listened to Robert Richman speak about culture. The presentation had an impact on me in the moment, but I knew that to get more from it that I would need to review time later.
I scheduled a personal 2-hour session the next day to review the content. It allowed me to schedule action steps for myself.
When you’ve been inspired to change your habits, schedule an hour the next day to review progress and adjust your plan.
Reviewing things periodically is a “must do” step when trying to change something.
But reviewing often means disconnecting. That can be a challenge. No one likes to come back to an exploding in-box.
But you need to do it to quiet get the time you need to think, plan, and recharge.
In fact, disconnect completely every so often. Shut down your email alert pop-up. Turn off your iPhone. Close your MacBook Air.
Spend the next hour or two reviewing things.
5. Inspire Others
Make it a mission to inspire others. Become an evangelist for something if you really believe in it—a new product, new service, a new method of doing something.
Like Guy Kawasaki did when he was with Apple.
Great leaders inspire others.
My goal for starting this blog is to give back to the professional community. So many have given to me both directly and indirectly over the years that I feel compelled to give back.
A habit I wanted to build was consistently updating this blog with the lessons I’ve learned. Hopefully they can help others.
A nice result of this blogging habit has been learning quite a bit about myself and it’s allowed me to review certain topics in more detail.
That seems like a win on multiple levels.
Try teaching, too. When you teach something, you learn so much more.
Deciding to change something after an inspiring talk or webinar happens all the time.
But implementing change is a challenge. To do it, you need to break old habits and creating new ones.
And the first step to doing it is following through.
So I have homework for you.
- Schedule 2 hours right now, tomorrow or the next day. Get it on your schedule.
- Determine the things you’d like to change in your personal and/or professional life. Follow the steps above and make change happen in your life!
The time for change is now. Especially in the new year; resolutions/goals stick better when you make them now. Thanks to Colin Collard for sharing this with me:
What habits would you like to change?
Have you tried anything that has been effective?
I’d love to hear about it.