Creating Powerful Habits to Maximise Business Results

by Dan Lemp

Voiceover: 0:02

Business owners,

Do you want an unfair advantage over your competitors? Do you want to dominate in your area of expertise? You are listening to Business Life Hacks. Learn to influence consumer psychology and shortcut your way to business success with tips, tricks, and hacks from award-winning digital agency, JMarketing.

Dan Lemp: 0:23

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Business Life Hacks. Today, we’re talking about: how to build permanent habits and why a focus on building productive habits produces exponentially bigger results than a focus purely on the results themselves.

So today we’re going to talk about: the three components that create powerful habits and how business owners can leverage them to maximise their business results.

So, Josh, why is this something that should be really important to business owners?

Josh Strawczynski: 0:55

If you’re a business owner growing your business and compounding your actions and the actions of your staff, is the ticket to running the marathon, so to speak. What a lot of us do is we stay busy, but we’re not necessarily as productive as we can be.

In fact, in some academic research, they’ve found a lot of people when they go through their day, even though they’re sitting at their desk for eight hours, only ended up doing two, three hours of actual work per day. Now you’ve definitely heard the saying that: not all time spent at work is created equal, and that’s absolutely true.

But how can we make sure that we’re doing those productive tasks – the things that actually drive the business forward, and we’re doing them with regularity; that’s really what we’re talking about today.

Dan Lemp: 1:46

Yeah. So let’s say you’re someone who wants to become really strong; you could go about it by setting an ambitious goal for yourself and saying, “Okay, you know what? No matter what, I am going to figure out how to bench 200 pounds. So then you start going to the gym and you’re exerting yourself a lot.

And eventually, you can get to that point of benching 200 pounds if you really work hard. But if you haven’t built a habit of regular exercise, then once you achieve that goal, you’re likely to just kind of forget about it. You’ve achieved that goal, so then what more is there to work for?

Instead, if you were to focus on building a habit of exercising every day and building a habit of going to the gym, you’re instead investing your focus and effort into creating a process that will get you stronger, automatically. So then you can get to that 200 pounds, of course, because you’re working at it.

It’s a part of your lifestyle now. But once you get to that 200 pounds, that wasn’t the initial goal. So that won’t make you drop off. You’ll keep growing to two, 205, 210, 230, 250. So it’s a process that actually grows with you.

Josh Strawczynski: 2:58

So I don’t want people to get lost here. I don’t want them to think: “Well, hang on, the goal was to get to 200 pounds and you’re telling me that I need to create this habit just to get there. And you told me you got there anyway.”

Here’s, what’s important to understand: by focusing on the habit of, “Okay, I’ll be in the gym between eight and nine every morning, Monday to Saturday or whatever it is” – that’s making a really easy quantifiable step. So you’re going to get to your goal much faster; much faster than coming in ad hoc and one day, “Oh good. I can now reach 200 pounds”.

And plus, as Dan is saying, you’re then going to surpass it as well. And there’s lots and lots and lots of successful people who, after that sold their business or left that job have gone into depression and all sorts of other downward spirals because they had a habit; they had a sense of purpose, and now they have no more habit anymore.

Whereas, if you have these other habits as well, like going into the gym, like working on your golf game or like building your business, those are the habits that will continually build.

Dan Lemp: 4:06

Yeah. So how does someone actually build these habits in a way that is sustainable and becomes natural for them; so they don’t have to work so hard to maintain it? Well, Charles Duhigg talks about this in his book, The Power of Habit.

So there’s a few components to it – and the first one is taking baby steps. You want to get into it gradually. So if you want to create a habit of running a lot and getting that kind of exercise, you’re going to burn out. If you just say, “Okay, I’m a runner now”, put on your shoes, and then start running 10 miles every day – you burn out. It’s not very sustainable for you.

Instead, it’s better to just start by putting on your running shoes and then opening the door and then don’t go running; just do that every morning for a couple of weeks. And then next step put on your shoes, open up the door and then go out; take a walk around the block, easy.

And then after you’ve done that for a couple of weeks – now you’ve gotten the habit of getting up and actually making that effort to do it. Now, just run around the block and then after a couple of weeks of doing that, run around the block five times and then run a mile and then run two miles and then three miles.

And then after six months to a year, you’ve now been building up that habit of starting to run every day and gradually building up so that it’s not a shock to your system. And it integrates naturally into your life.

Josh Strawczynski: 5:29

Here’s a really good example: not only of how a habit can have huge results, but also how it can inspire others. You may have heard of the story of Afroz Shah. He was a guy in Mumbai, who looking at his window at this once, beautiful beach short, absolutely covered in trash.

And we’re not talking about a few like pizza boxes flying around the place. We’re talking about the whole width and breadth of the beach, about a meter high in plastics and would-be thrown away things. And so a seemingly insurmountable task: he went out there one day and he put an hour into cleaning it – taking whole bags of rubbish away, which made exactly zero difference.

But he came back the next day and he put another hour and the next day and put another hour in and soon people started to come and ask him what he was doing because they’ve seen him every day and it’s made absolutely no difference, but buoyed by his efforts, they joined in and more people joined in.

And now when, (you can look this up, look on Google for Afroz Shah) that beach has been fully restored to its former glory, and he’s gone on and done the same environmental, amazing outcomes with a whole heap of other places.

That is the power of habit: it’s easy, it becomes addictive and it’s attractive to everyone else to join in.

Dan Lemp: 7:00

Yeah, he was focused on building a process to keep that beach clean rather than just the end result of it being clean. Because let’s pretend that he had a hundred million dollars, (which he didn’t) but if he did, he could just pay people $20 million dollars to go out and clean the beach.

But then what happens after that? Some people went and cleaned the beach because they were paid for it. And then it’s just going to go back to the way it was. Because he didn’t build a process in that case – he was just focused on the result.

So the process is much more powerful than the result itself.

Josh Strawczynski: 7:36

And I can relate this to my own business day. Some people will be very structured in their business day. But for me, what I found really, really powerful is – get up, get into the gym by 8:00 (actually a little bit earlier), but we’ll say eight and I’m home within an hour.

I’ve done my full workout, I’m at home. I make my coffee. I sit down, I answer my emails; the emails take 30 to 60 minutes. Then they’re done; that and the instant messages. Then I move on to answering media call outs. And I usually put about 30 minutes into that. I stop and have a coffee.

I try to tackle the two or three biggest problems that I have for the day straightaway. And then starting at 12:00 sharp on my Spanish lessons for either one or two hours, depending on how busy we are. Now, what happens is that I get to call it two in the afternoon and I’ve already achieved so much that if I want to keep ticking stuff off, I can.

But I’ve moved the pendulum so far. I’ve created so much momentum already that I’ve already won that day. And that that’s the power of habit; I’ve seen it firsthand.

Dan Lemp: 8:49

Yeah. So the other aspect that Charles Duhigg talks about in The Power of Habit is: building a system of triggers and rewards. So a trigger is something to indicate to your mind that the habit that you’re trying to build is about to start. So for example, an alarm clock going off at 7:30 in the morning, and right then you put on your shoes to go for that run.

And then the reward is something that makes you feel good or something that you enjoy after you’ve completed that task. So for me, I wake up in the morning, I meditate, I do some yoga and exercise is really hard for me to integrate into my life.

But I do it because after that, I always reward myself with a cold shower; which for most people is not a reward, but I really like it. And then I sit on my front porch in the sun drinking a cup of coffee, and I’m starting to associate doing the exercise with that result.

And so, it becomes a lot easier to commit to doing that exercise because I have that reward in mind.

Josh Strawczynski: 9:57

I loved what Arnold Schwartzenegger said about when he was training to be Mr. Olympia. He talked about every set that he does, every time he groans in pain, he was thinking, “I’m now one set closer to my goal” – that’s an amazing mindset.

Muhammad Ali, when he worked out, got asked, “How many set ups do you do?” And he said, “I don’t know. I only start counting when it starts to hurt” – and that was his process of pushing himself further. So, process is very much like you say about mindset, and if you’re giving yourself reward so you’re focusing on the goal at the end of it, then it’s really, really powerful.

I wanted to give the example: I mentioned my Spanish lessons before. I’m trying to speak Spanish fluently. And the goal for me is not to speak Spanish fluently; that’s a huge objective. That is what I want to achieve. But if I set that as the goal it’s insurmountable, you just can’t get there. And I’ve done this before I fell into the hole of feeling like it was hopeless.

So instead, I set the goal of doing 500 hours of practice this year. And you can break that down into daily habits or weekly habits. And the reward is at the end of every week, looking at my little timing out and going, “I am so much closer to my goal because at 500 hours, theoretically, I should be a hang of a lot closer to that much bigger goal of speaking Spanish fluently.”

That’s the power of habit.

Dan Lemp: 11:34

Yeah. And so, the other overarching concept that you’re talking about is having a big motivating goal that guides this whole process.

Josh Strawczynski: 11:43

That’s exactly right. We need to know where we’re going in order to get there. And if you have that destination, then you can break it into small steps and you can break it into habits to achieve that. I can’t stress enough how important it is just to do things.

Don’t think, act. So many of our clients get held up by worrying about what-ifs, instead of just doing something and then maybe throwing it away if it’s no good.

But you’d be shocked at if you just do. If you’re in the habit of just making, just writing that email, just trying a promotion – it’s amazing what will happen.

Dan Lemp: 12:26

So what do you recommend business owners do to leverage these concepts to achieve bigger business results?

Josh Strawczynski: 12:34

Let me break it down into a really simple formula. This is not going to shock you. It’s not information you didn’t already know. It’s information you’re just not applying. And it’s really simple.

Step one: is work out what the big goal is. I want to make another a hundred thousand dollars, right? That’s a great goal because it’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. This is a marketing concept called smart and tells what all goals should be, you can measure it and you can actually achieve it.

Then you need to break it down into: what are the steps roughly I need to take? For instance: for that a hundred thousand – okay, well, let’s break this down into publicity. I’m going to need to find a promotion that works, so I’m going to create X amount of promotions and test them.

And what’s the habit need to be to do that? “Okay, well, I need to work on this, say an hour a day; I’m going to create a list of three things that I’m going to achieve every single day.” If you push that methodology and form those into habits, it will work. You will achieve that higher goal.

As an example: we have this habit with my personal trainer. He was looking to get motivation and direction in life and achieve more. And so every day during our session, I would go down and I would ask him: “what is the one to three things you’re going to achieve today?” And every single day, he would get excited about reporting back the one to three things he achieved yesterday.

And guess what happened in much less than a year (like six months): he was so busy with clients that he couldn’t take on anymore. He had to increase his price. Following times, moved into a fantastic new place, which was way better than he’d been dreaming of; a whole host of other things.

All came down to the power of small habits, done every single day towards a goal, which is actually your bigger goal. That’s how, as a business owner, you make habits really powerful outcome for you.

Dan Lemp: 14:48

Yeah. So business owners, if you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend reading the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Changed my life and gave me some really actionable perspective on this process.

And if you have any questions or want to tell us about the habits that you use to increase your business results, email us at dan(@) or josh(@) Alright, Josh. Thanks so much. This was a great podcast.

Josh Strawczynski: 15:19

Thanks buddy. Looking forward to the next one.

Dan Lemp: 15:21


About the Author

Dan leads the JMarketing SEO department. An extremely analytical mind, he is fascinated with the questions of 'Why', 'How', and 'Is there a better way'? Through Dan's research and experimentation, JMarketing have unlocked a host of best practices and optimisation tricks for our clients.

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