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In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, the main character finds himself reliving the same 24-hour period over and over again. It appears that he is doomed to repeat the same day, same situations, and even same mistakes. His only hope of moving forward is to break his bad habits and behavior.
If only life and business were that simple. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of suspending reality. Our bad decisions and poor judgment are played out in real time. There is no rewind button. The one silver lining is that we all go to bed with the same opportunity waiting for us the next morning—a chance to break the cycle of bad mistakes.
As a business owner, most of the bad habits in your company can be sorted into five separate buckets. Below are the buckets and ways for you to improve your position in each one.
1. Maintain Your Finances – Maintaining adequate cash flow is essential to running a successful business. However, financing is typically not an area of expertise for most entrepreneurs and business owners. If you struggle managing the books, today would be a good time to break that habit. Hire a bookkeeper! Get references, conduct interviews, and find someone to take over your finances ASAP. This one decision can free up a lot of time and lower your stress level in the process.
2. Eliminate Time Robbers – For most business owners, especially service professionals, time is the only currency that matters. The secret isn’t learning how to save time, but rather how to use it wisely. Can you identify your “time robbers?” It may be as simple as making a list of them, and then putting an action plan together to eliminate them.
Another option is to hire an organizational expert or business coach who can advise you on strategies for making the most of your time and day. In either case, the goal is to prioritize your day, get your important work done, and leave extra time for unexpected issues that come up during the work day.
3. Eat Healthy & Exercise – If this isn’t something already in your life, it can be hard to incorporate into your daily routine…but it’s not impossible!
Without proper nutrition and an outlet to relieve stress, you are a calamity waiting to happen. Exercise and healthy eating are essential to vibrant health and a clear mind at work. You at your absolute best is somewhere between lazy and crazy. Even a 20-minute walk every afternoon gives your body a chance to reboot and recharge. That’s the feature; the benefit is clearer thinking and better management. Add healthy, whole foods into your diet – instead of that microwave or fast food meal – and you now have a recipe for success.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Healthy Body + Healthy Mind = Healthy Business.
4. Learn to say No! – Many times in business (and life), success is defined by how much we can fit into our schedules or pipeline. Don’t use that definition. Use this one instead – “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” Create a daily frame for your business. Everything you want to do in that particular day gets placed into the frame. Want to add a project, lunch date, or one-hour conference call? It will require removing something from the frame.
Once you learn how to say no to smaller requests, focus your efforts on declining bigger opportunities. It’s nice to be recognized for your talents, expertise, and success. It’s not so nice if you keep saying yes to every company that wants to be your partner. At some point, you max out on bandwidth and start to dilute your output. Mediocre work becomes the norm and then you aren’t being recognized as much by potential or existing clients. Break the cycle of saying “yes” all the time by saying “Thank you. We appreciate your interest in our company, but we’re not in a position to take on new clients at this point.”
5. Pace Yourself – You won’t break every cycle in one week or even 30 days. I have more bad habits than probably everyone in your company—combined! After years of trying to break all my bad habits at once, I decided to pick them off one at a time.
Last summer I switched from drinking diet soda to water and seltzer. In the fall, I started taking 5-10 minute breaks every hour and going for a walk or stretching outside my office. On January 1st, I broke the cycle of snacking on junk food while working on proposals. So far, I’ve been able to maintain my good habits while not missing the bad stuff. I’m now looking forward to going after the next 2-3 items on my “cycle-breaking” list.
We all want to be better business owners and enjoy what we do every day. Don’t let bad habits keep you from achieving your goals and dreams. Start making changes today!