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Poor Habits & Destructive Disciplines (Number 8 in a 10-Part Series)

habitsThe eighth reason good people don’t always win is that they have destructive disciplines and unsupportive habits. Instead of their habits helping them, their habits make progress more difficult and, in some cases, sabotage their success altogether.

But as I’ve often said, if you develop the habits of success, you will make success a habit.

In this chapter of this series we’ll examine our habits—both helpful and not. Because I want you to get just how powerful and important good habits and proper discipline is when it comes to winning.

We’ll also examine some of the challenges to changing our habits and discover ways to replace those that don’t serve us.

And finally, we’ll encourage you to commit or re-commit to acquiring the habits needed to win and replacing those habits that keep us from living our best life.

But first some basic premises . . .

  • A Habit is a wonderful servant but a terrible master
  • Bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with.
  • Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with.
  • When you sow and act, you reap a habit. When you sow a habit, you reap a character.
  • And when you sow a character, you reap a destiny.
  • We need to work as hard on ourselves as we do at our job or on our goals.
  • We first make our habits; then our habits make us.
  • If you don’t conquer your bad habits, they’ll eventually conquer you.
  • Habits are at first cobwebs . . . then steel cables.
  • How you do anything is pretty much how you do everything.
  • Easier to replace a habit than eliminate one.
  • We have habits because they served us.
  • Everything matters.
  • What’s easy to do is also easy NOT to do.

“The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably thought and act.”

—Orison Swett Marden

Obstacles

Here are some of the obstacles we must overcome in directing and changing our habits:

  • Change is usually hard
  • Ingrained brain patterns
  • Taking on too many at a time
  • Not realizing how powerful they are
  • Not having big enough reasons
  • Other people
  • Environment

Strategies for successfully changing habits and developing good disciplines:

  • Choose carefully
  • Don’t take on too many at a time
  • Be precise
  • Enhance your reasons for change
    • Exacerbate the pain ~ the cost of NOT changing
    • Pile on the benefits ~ elevate the payoffs
  • Make sure it’s worth it
  • Track your progress, be accountable
  • Celebrate your successes

One of the ways to explore habits you wish to change or install is to go through a More/Less, Start/Stop exercise. Simply answer these questions with as many things as you can think of:

  • What do you want to do more of?
  • What do you want to do less of?
  • What do you want to start doing?
  • What do you want to stop doing?

Something else you can do is to look at your top 3 goals and ask what habits and disciplines does their accomplishment require. Ask yourself what kind of a person do you need to become in order to achieve your most important goals? Because who you become is almost always more important than what you achieve.

Winning Habits
Here are a few of the winning habits of people who consistently win:

  • Urgency – Do It Now
  • Deciding quickly, and changing decisions slowly (if at all)
  • Good planning
  • Speaking positively, no complaining
  • Telling the truth, operating with integrity
  • Order

Habit Ideas
Here are some ideas for habits YOU might like to acquire, change or improve upon:

  • Daily vitamins
  • Up early
  • Be on time
  • Smile
  • Bragging/boasting
  • Plan your week on Sunday
  • Worry
  • Filing taxes on time, every time
  • Accounting up to date
  • Say affirmations daily
  • Prayer/meditation
  • Saving at least 10% of income
  • Practicing daily gratefuls
  • Wear seatbelt ALL the time

I’ve always appreciated this poem, although I have never been able to source the author. Do you know?

WHO AM I?

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,
And I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done,
And after a few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great men
And, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine
Plus the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin;
It makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me
And I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
I am HABIT!

Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

If you want to consistently win, achieve your most important goals and live your best life, you must cultivate the habits that work and shun those that don’t. Make your habits serve you and never be a servant of them.

Resources

  • The Best Life Navigator™ launches soon. It allows you to keep your personal and professional growth front and center. It has the tools you need for your success—all in one place.
    • The CANI (Constant And Never-ending Improvement) section deals with habits in general, Top Daily Habits, and has the Start/Stop, More/Less exercise.
  • Stay close to SuccessNet. We’ve been helping people and companies grow and prosper for nearly 20 years. Because if you consistently work on improving yourself, you will become someone who attracts success in all areas.
  • Phil Humbert’s eBook www.BetterHabits4aBetterLife.com

Take Action

  1. Decide on 3 habits to acquire or replace
  2. Make a action plan for accomplishment
  3. Start today

Please Tell Us What You Think
I’ve published this article and the previous one here on my Blog. Please add your comments, questions and suggestions at the bottom of the post. Your feedback and engagement is important. If you disagree with anything, say so. If you have questions, ask. If you have additional insights or resources, please share. I promise to read every one. Thank you.

By the way, you’ll gain even greater value from this series if you have a copy of my book, The Achievement Code: The 3C Formula for Getting What You Truly Want (available in print or Kindle). Details at www.TheAchievementCode.com

Previous installments of this series are located here on my Blog.

  1. Insufficient Desire
  2. Lack of—or Erroneous—Beliefs
  3. Confusion, Lack of Clarity
  4. Lack of Focus and Concentration
  5. Inadequate Support
  6. Fear
  7. Poor Tracking

 

Poor Tracking (Number 7 is a 10-Part Series)

PoorTrackingWould you watch a football game where nobody was keeping score and there wasn’t any time-keeper?

Would you attempt to operate a business with no sales reports, profit and loss statement, or balance sheet?

Would you put your money in a bank without being able to see an accurate report of what you had in your accounts?

Of course not.

And yet, most people try to run their lives with little or no tacking of where they are, where they’re going or what kind of progress they’re making. You can’t win if you don’t play, but you also can’t win if you don’t know what the score is.

To live your best life, you have to keep score. You have to know your numbers..

But I know people who have thousands of stats about baseball and football in their head but don’t have hardly ANY stats on their life, their goals and their finances.

You can’t change what you don’t measure. And what gets measured gets done. If you don’t measure you are just a wandering generality.

You have to know where you are, where you’re going, why you are doing it and how you plan to get there in order to have the clarity that leads to power.

It’s the only way to focus. If you’re serious about living your best life and achieving your goals, you MUST commit to keeping meaningful metrics.

If you have a business without sufficient metrics, you have a hobby instead of a business. And if you aren’t serious about tracking, you simply aren’t serious about success.

I created an acronym a few years back as a reminder of how important this is:

Measure

Essentials

To

Reach

Incredible

Clarity and

Success

This is the M in SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Good tracking of performance indicators is not hard and can actually be fun. You can even make a game of it. And the pay-offs are substantial.

So what should you track? Anything that impacts your performance or results in achieving your objectives. It will vary depending upon the complexity, importance and length of time required to reach your goals.

Here are some examples:

  • Credit score
  • Time invested
  • New customers
  • Income & Expenses
  • Wins & Losses
  • Results
  • Progress
  • Health
    • weight
    • exercise activity
    • food intake
    • measurements
    • blood pressure
  • Speed
  • Profits
  • Sales

In every important goal you have—and especially your top three—you must ask yourself how you will track your progress and how you will know how you are doing.

I believe that feedback is the breakfast of champions—and good metrics provide good feedback. Remember that visible is memorable. Make your metrics easy to see, not hidden away in some obscure file or desk drawer. Use graphs and charts and make your data come alive.

Most financial information for businesses and even personal finances are too historical to do you much good. You need timely updates, quick feedback and up-to-date reporting. The more timely your tracking, the more success you can expect.

So what keeps you from using meaningful metrics to track, guide and win? There are many, I’m sure. But here’s what I’ve encountered the most:

  • You’ve never been sold on how powerful and important they are
  • Keeping stats sound boring and dull
  • Tracking looks like hard work
  • Don’t know which indicators are important to track
  • Being overwhelmed by too many stats
  • Not wanting to face the real numbers
  • Thinking it will take too much time

Strategies
Make it easy to do. If it’s hard or time-consuming you won’t do it. So look for ways to make it simple and easy. Use tools and apps. Spreadsheets are a great way to record, track and graph information. It’s worth learning how to create and use spreadsheets well. And there are many templates already available for free.

Use white boards, poster boards and screen savers to keep your information visible.

Create your own “Snapshot” and/or Dashboard.

For accounting, QuickBooks (for business) and Quicken (for personal use) are inexpensive and easy to use.

Make a game out of it. Make it fun and you’ll find it fun to do.

Here’s an example of some of our top performance indicators that we track here at SuccessNet:

  • Promotions and their results
  • Visitors: new, unique, # of accesses
  • Open rates of emails sent
  • New contacts
  • Sales
  • New subscribers, new members
  • Current mailing list size
  • Unsubscribes
  • Cost per customer
  • Average sale per customer
  • Cost per sale, conversion rate
  • Comparison of averages, maximums, minimums, last year, last month

And here are a few that a small retail store would track:

  • Daily sales, weather, other influences
  • Sales calls, closes, prospects, inquiries
  • Net worth
  • Profit and Loss
  • Inventory
  • Returns

I also recommend the use of SWOT Analysis—for life and your business. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s not so much tracking as it is a benchmark for where you are. See the resource below for a full explanation.

Resources

 

Take Action

1. Pick at least three performance indicators to track and start tracking
a. At least a couple for each Top Goal
2. Do a SWOT analysis on your business, then add to it over the next week
3. Create a Month-End Snapshot

And hang in there. It will get easier, more habitual and more fun the more you do it. I like what Robin Sharma says about change: “Change is difficult in the beginning, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”

Please Tell Us What You Think
I’ve published this article and the previous one here on my Blog. Please add your comments, questions and suggestions at the bottom of the post. Your feedback and engagement is important. If you disagree with anything, say so. If you have questions, ask. If you have additional insights or resources, please share. I promise to read every one. Thank you.

BTW, you’ll gain even greater value from this series if you have a copy of my book, The Achievement Code: The 3C Formula for Getting What You Truly Want (available in print or Kindle). Details at www.TheAchievementCode.com

Previous installments of this series are located here on my Blog.

1. Insufficient Desire
2. Lack of—or Erroneous—Beliefs
3. Confusion, Lack of Clarity
4. Lack of Focus and Concentration
5. Inadequate Support
6. Fear

Please share this series with your friends. We thank you—and so will your friends.

Fear (6th in a 10-part Series)

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

—Dorothy Thompson

Number Six of The Top Ten Reasons Good People Don’t Always Win is fear.

Objectives for this lesson:

  • Understand your fears better
  • Examine the fears that keep you from winning
  • Look closely at your fear of failure
  • Re-frame failure

Main Premises

  • Everyone has fears—but most are unfounded
  • Fear CAN be your friend. Fear can teach you. Fear can keep you from doing stupid stuff—But mostly it runs you
  • Fear isn’t something your mind possesses; it possesses your mind.
  • Fears are very sneaky
  • To fully embrace your dreams, you MUST confront your fears

Top Fears
According to some recent studies, these are the top fears people say they have:

  1. Flying
  2. Public speaking
  3. Heights
  4. Darkness
  5. Intimacy
  6. Death
  7. Failure
  8. Rejection
  9. Spiders
  10. Commitments

Number 7 and 8 are closely related, and keep more good people from winning than anything else.

Fear of failure is the biggest killer of big dreams. But not having a goal is much more to be feared than not reaching one. All successful people have failed—usually many times. It’s part of being successful.

From the book (and movie) Dune . . .

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

—Frank Herbert

Identify Your Fears
What are you afraid of? What are your demons? I recommend you write your fears out. Bring them out into the light of day. The mere act of writing them down seems to make them smaller and less scary.

A fear named is a fear half slain.

Most Helpful Questions
What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the worst-case scenario? Exaggerate that worst-case scenario in your mind because it rarely can be that bad. But once you can accept the worst, you can face your fear with courage.

One more question that should get you thinking . . . What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Re-frame Failure
The fear of failure keeps many people from getting excited about their dream—or from even trying. It’s the biggest killer of big dreams.

But not having a goal is much more to be feared than not reaching one.

All successful people have failed—usually many times. It’s part of being successful.

From there you can make a game-plan to overcome them. But as long as they’re in the dark and undefined, they have the potential to overwhelm you.

“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses;
it is an idea that possesses the mind.”

—Robert Bolton

The road to success is paved with disappointment. Losers call it failure; but winners call it feedback.

We have to reframe the whole idea of failure. It really is part of achieving goals. We need to get comfortable with failing (learning).

Fail fast and fail often (more feedback)
Ben Zander, in his book, Radiating Possibility, says that when we make a mistake, we should say, “how fascinating!” Because the more you fail, the more feedback you get. And the more efforts you make, the higher the chances of you having success more quickly.

Mistakes are missed-takes. Like the director of a movie making the actors perform many ‘takes’ until he’s happy with the result. And much like Hollywood, the best life movie we’re creating can have many takes as well.

Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”

And with sufficient desire, you can handle the challenges of failure and setbacks. I like what Willie Jolley says, too: “A setback is a setup for a comeback.”

The important thing here is that in addition to having a clear goal, you also have a goal that inspires and motivates you.

Having a clear and powerful Why can do that. Your big Why can overcome whatever fears you have.

You need to be truly excited about your goals. Get fired up. Enthusiasm is contagious. Because if you’re not excited about your goal, you can’t expect anyone else to be. And big goals need other people. In fact, if you think you can accomplish your goal entirely by yourself, I submit that your goal probably isn’t big enough.

“He who has a Why to live for, can bear almost any How.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

What we must do is to live out of our hopes and dreams rather than out of our fears.

In your life, either fear wins or freedom wins. Choose freedom.

  • Resources
    The Best Life Navigator™ launches soon. It allows you to keep your personal and professional growth front and center. It has the tools you need for your success—all in one place. The Navigator is uniquely designed to help you . . .

    • better understand yourself
    • create your best life
    • challenge yourself
    • track your progress
  • Stay close to SuccessNet. We’ve been helping people and companies grow and prosper for nearly 20 years. Because if you consistently work on improving yourself, you will become someone who attracts success in all areas.

Take Action

  1. List everything you fear
  2. Pick one to eliminate
  3. Make a plan to eliminate it—and execute that plan

Please Tell Us What You Think
I’ve published this article and the previous ones here on my Blog. Please add your comments, questions and suggestions at the bottom of the post. Your feedback and engagement is important. If you disagree with anything, say so. If you have questions, ask. If you have additional insights or resources, please share. I promise to read every one. Thank you.

BTW, you’ll gain even greater value from this series if you have a copy of my book, The Achievement Code: The 3C Formula for Getting What You Truly Want (available in print or Kindle). Details at www.TheAchievementCode.com

Previous installments of this series are located here on my Blog.

  1. Insufficient Desire
  2. Lack of—or Erroneous—Beliefs
  3. Confusion, Lack of Clarity
  4. Lack of Focus and Concentration
  5. Inadequate Support

F-E-A-R has two meanings:

1. Forget Everything And Run, or

2. Face Everything And Rise.

The Choice is Yours!