For better or worse, your life is largely the result of your collective habits. What you do repeatedly today creates your results tomorrow.
This is as true for your business as it is true for your personal life. For example, you can count on running into trouble with the IRS if you keep being late paying your business taxes or ignoring your tax responsibility altogether.
Habits either serve us or they hurt us. Which outcome it’s going to be is up to each and every one of us.
So are you happy with the results you’re getting from your habits? Or are you frustrated, dissatisfied, and ready to change your outcomes?
This Is The Challenge…
Habits can be difficult to change (particularly as we get older). However, there’s no need to be intimidated by the changes you need to make to get different results.
In other words, while challenging, it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming.
Did you know that just by making small, intentional changes in your thoughts, words, and actions, the quality of your life can be changed dramatically… for the better?
Here Is The Advantage
Making just small changes has many advantages.
For starters, they’re much less intimidating to implement…
Have you ever tried to radically change your diet or add a big commitment to your life? Well, then you know firsthand how challenging it can be. The psychological hurdles that come with your decision can seem insurmountable at times.
For example, many of us are dehydrated without even knowing it. You can either:
- Overwhelm yourself by lining up ten 8oz glasses of water to drink throughout the day, or
- Simply start by drinking a glass of water each morning. Drinking a glass of water in the morning is a small change anyone can easily put into practice.
Small changes slip under your radar.
Our brains are hardwired to resist change. After all, whatever we’ve been doing has kept us alive thus far.
Small changes are less likely to trigger the brain’s defense mechanisms. For example, meditating for 1 minute won’t stir up any anxiety, whereas a 2-hour session probably will.
It’s easy to keep getting better.
If you do 2 pushups a day this week, you can probably do 3 next week, and 4 the week after.
But if you kill yourself and somehow manage to do 50 pushups per day this week, how much more can you really expect to do next week? We’re all addicted to progress. Starting small permits progress to be realized and enjoyed each week.
Small changes require little time.
It can be difficult to find an extra hour each day, but anyone can find 5 minutes here and there. So listen up, the less a new action disrupts your current routine, the more likely you are to keep it up.
Small changes are effective, fun, and easy to do. It’s completely unnecessary to take drastic steps to move your life in a new and positive direction.
Simple and Easy Strategies
Now let’s take a look at some simple and easy strategies that help you increase the likelihood of success when making small changes.
- Be patient. Small actions can result in enormous changes, but it can take time to harvest the rewards. One push-up per day isn’t likely to do much, but it does make it easier to do 2 pushups in the future. Once you’re doing 10 or more, you’ll likely start to see results.Fortunately, it’s much easier to be patient when you’re doing so little. Frustration tends to set in more when you’re working too hard.
- Start small. You’ll know you’re starting small enough when you’re able to complete the action without any mental resistance. Add a little each week until you’re performing at a level that’s effective.
- Only add a few actions at a time. It might be tempting to add 20 new things to your life, but that has the same disadvantages as adding a larger action. You’ll probably feel overwhelmed and be unable to stick with it long enough to see any results.
- Consistency is the key. Eating perfectly for a day will do nothing for your waistline. Eating well most days for weeks and months will have a huge effect.
- Go for progress, rather than perfection. Extraordinary results can come from ordinary actions. The key is regular progress. You’ll enhance your results as you make small, positive changes. Remember, there’s no need to be perfect!
Can you see how this applies to your day-to-day life? Well, the same principles apply to your business too.
Contrary to popular belief, making progress in business is often about the little things. About doing a few things well, rather than slaving away and putting in 80-hour plus workweeks.
Next are three simple and easy suggestions. Make an effort to develop these habits and see your business and life improve:
Be on time… (I did say the suggestions were simple!)
Show up to start the work day on time. Set a good example for your employees.
Be prompt when scheduling appointments and calling for meetings. Even if you are the boss, a lack of punctuality is often viewed as a sign of disrespect. It also gives the appearance that you lack control over yourself and your time.
Worst of all, your employees may assume that you don’t care. Get in the habit of being 3-5 minutes early for meetings and appointments.
Question your morning routine. Most of us have morning routines that get us where we need to go only if everything goes perfectly. Your schedule is ruined if you run into a little traffic or need to stop for gas.
So make it a habit… Don’t let employees, co-workers, or patients wait. Create a routine that doesn’t rely on perfection or good luck.
The bottom-line… if you want your employees and patients to be on time, you must also be on time!
If need be, create a new habit. Start slow, but keep at it until you get it right, until it’s a habit.
Make it a habit to be polite and respectful, no matter what.
It may be challenging to treat everyone well, especially if you feel they’ve been less than polite and respectful to you. But the habit of treating others with kindness and respect will take you far in business (and life).
Treat your employees and patients like you want to be treated, and you can’t go wrong. Always show them consideration and respect.
Of course, you’ll want to refrain from using foul language. You’ll also want to make every effort to dress appropriately… setting the tone for your employees and the office. Remember, appearances do matter!
If you’re currently a bit “relaxed” with language or dress code, make the necessary adjustments.
Every day, be mindful of how you dress. If need be, dress a bit more professional. And every time you catch yourself wanting to use colorful language stop yourself and make a better choice
This may seem insignificant today. However, over time you will notice a change in the people around you. You no longer need to ask employees to dress more professional or watch their language.
Make it a habit of staying on top of your practice finances.
Know what flows in and what flows out of your office. Don’t let your office get behind with paying the bills. Set up a pre-determined time to pay bills, taxes, and other obligations. If one of your employees has the task, get a report so you know what is getting done each day.
Keep track of what your office spends… the dollars flowing out. Spend a few minutes each day or week to keep tabs on your expenses. If one of your employees spends money for your office, get a detailed report of what’s been spent, so you can track your expenses.
Don’t let this get out of hand. Regularly track what your office spends; this should only take you a few minutes each day or week.
If done regularly, you’ll see the warning signs, if something is not right. This is the only way you can make corrections and avoid a potential financial disaster. It will also help you identify questionable spending habits.
Compare your numbers to your budget. Are you on track? What needs to be done to stay within your monthly budget?
If you’ve ever struggled to make a major change by making drastic changes, you already know how challenging that can be. Yet small steps can result in profound changes over time.
Here is what to do next…
Give smaller steps and tiny tweaks a try. Sit down and think about what you would like to change. Ask yourself how you can take small steps to implement the changes.
Make the small tweaks and see how your own compliance will increase and you’ll move toward your goal. All that’s left to do is remain patient and stick to your plan.
We’d want to hear from you… tell us what you think.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians” and a regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.