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Problem One: When my business first peaked, my newsletter would go out like clockwork every week. And, every Sunday, I would go through my prospect list and write out who I needed to contact that week. During my ‘wilderness’ years when my morale dropped because I couldn’t figure out how to help the 85% of my clients get underwhelming results (even though they got the same content and coaching as the other 15%), this newsletter would go out very sporadically. Sometimes a few months would go by and I wouldn’t send it out at all. Then I’d have an ‘up’ burst and send it out for a few weeks. Then it would stutter, stop for a while, restart, and repeat. For years. My weekly prospecting habit happened (at best) every other month.
Everyone rightly talks about the power of persistency. But what gets surprisingly little airtime is the power and frequent absence of CONSISTENCY in our lives.
Where are you inconsistent? With prospecting? Exercise? Making time for key relationships? Your financial decisions?
When I look at the 15% of the biggest success stories of people I’ve coached, they rarely exploded out of the gates. They picked small things to work on that were effective at generating business and did them week-in and week-out. By year-end – and several times it took 2-3 years – their results were spectacular: Numbers so good they sound made up.
Read on for the solution…
Problem Two: Until 2020, I always considered myself change-averse and someone who believed that change was hard. I made the same mistake we all do with a belief: I only sought evidence to prove it. I noticed all my clients who struggled to change; I noticed the ones who did change but then couldn’t sustain it for more than a few months, but I managed NOT to dwell on the ones who transformed themselves. I remembered the times when the change was hard for me and failed to remember the times I adapted to change remarkably easily – other than to discount these times as good fortune.
While each of us varies in how well we handle change today, I now know that we can all learn to adapt better and change. You simply need to learn how to make it easy to get started.
The solution for both inconsistency and learning how to change is this:
Know how to craft a tiny habit
Why? Because this teaches you how to start small and make it EASY to change. In other words: lower the barriers to change by finding an easy way to start.
The power of this over time is subtle and stunning.
How to Craft a Tiny Habit
This process comes from Stanford professor BJ Fogg and his 2020 bestseller, Tiny Habits. He has spent twenty years researching how people change and found the best way to do it is to stack the new behavior/habit you want on top of a hard-wired existing one. His simple three-step process is this:
a) Current habit (eg, brush teeth)
b) Stack new desired habit (eg, floss teeth)
c) Feel good
All habits are written with the same starting words:
After I… (do current habit)
I will… (add new habit)
eg, If you’re struggling to floss your teeth consistently, put your floss right by your toothbrush so it’s easy to remember to use and write your habit:
After I brush my teeth,
I will miss one tooth
You want to make it as easy as possible to succeed. Scale-up when you’re ready.
The third element and the KEY to creating a new habit are the dopamine hit right away afterward. Fogg told me that this was the “secret sauce” to having success instilling a new habit – what he calls ‘celebration’. I prefer to think of it as feel good. This is making sure your brain gets a dopamine hit immediately after you do the right thing. Acknowledge yourself in a positive way for having done the right thing. Experiencing this feeling is really important so your brain feels rewarded right away and wants to do it again.
You can scale up from tiny any time you want. Fogg believes that psychologically it’s better to set a low bar that you hit consistently but I’m not sure if that approach holds water with achiever types as well. You can experiment with what works for you
The key thing to understand is that you change best when you feel good, not when you feel bad. YOU change best when you feel good, not when you feel bad. Even if it feels like you’re praising yourself for doing something too trivial, remind yourself you’re on a new road to making real positive change in your life – and that is worth feeling good about: a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, right?
The life-changing news is to stop blaming yourself for inconsistency and erratic motivation and focus instead on the more predictable prompt and ability to get yourself in action. Find an anchor. Start small. Feel good.
To sustaining positive change!
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121