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Developing a Mindset for Good Habits

For every good habit you develop, at least one bad habit is discarded.

While we’re already well into 2018, it’s not too late to establish a New Year’s resolution. Or, if you had one, it’s a good time to review your progress so far. Achieving a New Year’s resolution is no different than achieving a goal. You’ve got to be serious about the goal and then consistently execute activities that will make your goal a reality.

There’s a yin and yang element when it comes to developing habits, good or bad, that’s controlled by the mind. For every good habit you develop, at least one bad habit is discarded. The same holds true for bad habits: They replace good habits. The challenge is that nobody sets out to develop bad habits; rather they sort of creep up over time. Good habits are intentional.  

Think of the goals you set for last year. If you achieved your goals, most likely it was the result of two habits:

  1. Mindset Commitment—a strong mental commitment to your goal
  2. Behaviors—disciplined execution of critical activities linked to your goal

When you develop the mindset habit of setting and achieving annual goals, you instinctively discard one or more bad habits to create space to execute those critical activities.

For instance, maybe you tend to procrastinate or you socialize too much in the office, or some combination of non-productive behaviors. When you switch to a mindset commitment, you’ve changed your thinking. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to do this weekend, you’re thinking about your goals. This activates the yin and yang element of habits. Your behavior changes, now you’re consistently executing those critical activities.

Mindset Commitment

There’s a tendency to think of habits in terms of what we do—behaviors. Either we eat too much or we don’t; we exercise or we don’t; we execute our prospecting activities or we don’t. However, the mental commitment to your goal, whatever that goal might be, is the core from which all positive behavioral changes occur. Your thinking changes to where your goal becomes a mental compulsion—a powerfully good habit.

This is why nobody can set goals for you. This Mindset Commitment is yours and yours alone. Therefore, serious thought is required in making your goal commitment. Is it really meaningful to you? Are you willing to sacrifice (make the behavioral changes and eliminate bad habits) to consistently execute the critical activities linked to your goal?

Yin—Goal-Focused Activities

Your first step is to identify the critical activities linked to your goal.

An example is Steve, whose 2018 goal is to bring in $30 million of new assets. Assuming Steve has the mindset commitment his next task is to determine the critical activities he must execute.

He determined that he’s going to have one non-business lunch per week with a top client and source four names per week. This doesn’t appear to be much at first glance, but in order to develop these activities into a habit, Steve must address the bad habits that must be discarded.

Yang—Discarding Non-Productive Activities

I asked Steve what he needed to “stop doing” in order to execute his critical activities. He said, “stop having lunch with advisors.” Steve just identified one of his bad habits.

After a little more thought, he determined that he needed to stop taking calls from smaller clients—another bad habit identified.

As he makes his first call to schedule a non-business lunch, he’ll likely put a hard stop to lunching with colleagues. In blocking time every day to talk with top clients, he’ll have to put a hard stop to taking calls from smaller clients. Spending time out of the office with clients will enable him to get introduced to the prospects he’s sourced.

Regardless of your goal, mindset commitment is what unlocks the yin and yang element of habits that enables behavioral change—good habits replacing the bad. All of this is essential for accomplishing any goal.

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