Every year on January 1, I have a long list of resolutions. By the end of February that list is usually a distant memory. This year, I created that list of things I wanted to do, accomplish and change. As always, life, business and stuff has gotten in the way. There is, however, one item still active on my list: improving my photography skills.
Why did this objective survive when other’s like losing weight, reading more for leisure and exercising, all fell by the wayside? For this objective, I moved from a vague “improve” to a very specific and actionable process. I committed to share one photo every day. I assumed that taking the time to compare photos and find one I felt good about sharing every day would help me hone my skills. It has. After almost six months, I find myself being more critical as I take photos. I actually take fewer photos than I did a year ago.
I also told people I was going to do this and published the photos on my blog. Now I have a few friends who hold me accountable, asking about the day’s photo if it isn’t published first thing in the morning. Finally, doing it every day helped me form a habit. Now it’s just part of my daily routine. The day feels somehow incomplete until I share my photo.
This same strategy will work with almost any business objective. Instead of saying you want to blog more or improve traffic to your website, identify the specific behaviors and actions you will employ to move you closer to your goal. Commit to a schedule and create a habit. Research has shown it takes about 21 days to effect any perceptible change in a mental image. Plan on repeating the behavior for at least that long to make it part of your routine.
Next, enlist the aid of others. Instead of telling them you are going to write a blog post every day or make 10 cold calls, try this approach: Ask them to ask you if you made your calls today. If the question is a vague “How is it going,” it is easy to say fine, even when you haven’t done anything for a week or two. On the other hand, when someone asks you a specific question, it’s harder to kid yourself that you are still on track when you fall off the wagon. As a result, you will be more motivated to stay on task.
Finally, take time to reward yourself and celebrate your success. If you achieve a sales objective, take yourself out to lunch or buy something for yourself. I really like many of the photos in my collection and am going to print a few of them, hang them on my walls and give several to friends who have helped me stay on track.
These are some of my favorite recent photos. To see more go to lorraineball.com