Do Good Habits Mean Anything?

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When I was still toying with the idea of doing better at marathons, my running coach told me that I had a ton of natural talent–why wasn’t I using it or sharpening it? I’d just been coasting along with what I could already do, knowing it made me a slightly better runner than the average person, but I’d never tried to take that endeavour seriously in the past because I never knew what I was truly capable of. 

My coach instilled some good running practices and habits in me, and, with his help, I ran a marathon in a little over three hours after six months of training with him. With another six months of training, I expect to be able to finish a race in less than three hours, a feat that only less than three percent of the population can claim they’ve accomplished.

I managed an incredible finish not because of raw talent, but because I’d cultivated and developed good habits that refined that talent–and I brought this practice into my business.

Good habits are integral not just to succeeding in business, but also personal success, which will ultimately make you a stronger and more effective business owner. Developing good habits will permeate every aspect of your life, from professional to personal, and can help you detach from being in “work mode” all the time because of the structure you’ve created through good habits.

When you nurture and develop your good habits, you lay down a better framework for your life and what you do because they help you straighten out what you should and shouldn’t do, when you should and shouldn’t do them. Good habits can help you improve yourself and give your life more structure.

Why are good habits important in business?

I didn’t realise how swamped I was when I was running my custom cycling wear business until I was able to look back on it. I had no structure and I was stubborn about it, thinking that my dedication to my business was rooted in how I couldn’t let go of it. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not letting go was a habit I’d developed and it soon became difficult to sort out what I was doing for my business and what I was doing for myself. I was working late, had no boundaries nor any consistency. 

It’s important to develop good habits because they:

  • Help you reach your goals 
  • Set a foundation for your everyday
  • Can replace motivation for days you don’t feel as driven

These are particularly important in business. You definitely want to reach your business goals, have a foundation set everyday to make work smoother and still be able to complete tasks even when you’re not as motivated. 

Habits are powerful and can make or break your routines and day-to-day. With good habits, you’ll become a better example to your staff in terms of work-life balance and productivity, showing that you really know how to walk the walk. They also provide you with structure and a way to go about things that are organised and deliberate. 

How do good habits help you progress?

When you don’t need to worry about getting the right amount of sleep, when and where you’ll be getting your next meal and if you’re secure, or safe, you can get a lot more done in a day and still be able to follow a schedule. According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow, there’s a hierarchy of needs you need to establish with each one necessitating the one before it.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from Simply Psychology

Changing your habits can ensure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep and food on time and that you are well-rested everyday, setting healthy foundations for you. You no longer have to worry about when you’re going to bed or what you’re going to eat because your good habits can activate your essential routines like clockwork and leave you more brain power to focus on other things. Little routines can include dedicating a time for your breakfast, like eating at 7 AM sharp, or even setting a bedtime routine.

If you have those basic needs in place and taken care of with good habits, you can then start to work on your esteem needs, relationships and, of course, reaching your full potential by self-actualising. Self-actualisation lies at the top of the pyramid because you need to feel adequately protected and cared for physically and emotionally before embarking on a journey to unlocking your full abilities.

When you self-actualise, it doesn’t just stop at your personal life. It makes waves in every aspect of your life. The more you’ve discovered yourself and what you’re capable of, the more you can apply those discoveries to your business. Being well-rested, fed and warm helps you focus on what you need to do, the business decisions you need to make and the ventures you want to go on as a business owner. 

Just as I was able to focus on beating the marathon in a little over three hours, I can now do the same but have an even more ambitious goal because my good habits have me eating healthy, training right and getting adequate rest so I can be race-ready. 

Having all that energy to yourself because you’ve met your more urgent needs with your good habits means that you’ll be more effective and productive. 

What can you do to follow through with good habits?

Habits aren’t the easiest to regularise, especially if they’re new to you and you’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time. It’s important to acknowledge and be deliberate about starting a new one, despite discomfort. You need to move from your comfort zone to the growth zone, even if it’s not always comfortable, in order to avoid stagnation. 

In order to follow through with good habits, remember these three things:

  • Remember why they benefit you - There’s no point in working through pain if you don’t see the benefit of what you’re working towards. You need to know how the habit will benefit you in order to cement it, otherwise your body will not respond to it in a routine manner. It’ll be easier for you, cognitively and physically, because knowing why will give you a reason to keep committing to it. For example, if you’re trying to cement good eating habits, you need to remind yourself that the outcome will be a healthy lifestyle and more energy. 
  • Identify triggers - Knowing what brings about good habits can help a lot. Something in your environment may spur you to do something that you’ve done like clockwork. Maybe it’s as simple as every time you smell coffee beans from the cafe at the corner of your building, you end up buying sweets with your coffee, which isn’t always necessarily a good habit. Identifying that trigger helps you sever that habit and build a better one instead.
  • Celebrate wins, big and small - Cementing a habit is important but it doesn’t mean you have to be overly serious with the endeavour. Every small obstacle you overcome is still an obstacle, and therefore something to be celebrated. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back for little wins, as they contribute to your habit-making like big wins do. 

Good habits can be difficult to develop, especially if you already have set routines that oppose the good ones you want to set. They’re not impossible, however, and are very doable as long as you’ve got the drive and the patience with yourself to commit. Committing to a good habit is committing to yourself and your growth in order for you to reach your full potential and your goals personally and professionally. 

Finding like-minded individuals who are also looking to be held accountable for their actions while forming good habits doesn’t have to be hard, join my Facebook group to find others who are in your shoes (and tick off the relationship needs in your hierarchy while you’re at it) and get coaching to help you stay on track.  

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