Can habits help you achieve your goals? Establishing positive habits when running a home business can make the difference between success and failure.


What is a habit?

Habits are behavioural defaults that, unless consciously overridden, will continue to occur naturally. Imagine a rut in the road – your wheels will tend to run in that rut unless you make a deliberate attempt to jump up out of it and stay out of it.

Running in a rut is easier and takes relatively little effort as opposed to the effort required to get out of one. If your ruts are leading you toward your goals, you’re in good shape. If, however, they are leading you away from your goals, you ought to find or form a new rut that leads where you want to go.

Forming new, positive, goal-achieving habits – digging new ruts – is made easier when we understand that the human psyche likes ruts. Ruts are known paths of least resistance, and habits once formed create a framework that supports your priorities.

Behavioural scientists suggest a habit can be formed in as few as twenty-one days to as many as sixty days – the most important thing is repetition. That is, with a little effort towards consistency, your habits can get established and then take over. It’s somewhat like a flight – the pilots are busy at take-off getting the airplane off the ground and up to cruising altitude. Once there, they can switch to auto-pilot and relax. Forming your new habits is like a pilot at take-off – it’ll require your attention and effort, but once that habit sets in, it gets easier.

Michelle Joseph suggests that “habits will determine whether or not we reach our goals” since goals are often the result of doing the same thing repeatedly and habits support repetition. Fitz Villafuerte tells us that “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Perhaps the most important thing required to form a new habit is to have clearly defined goals. "Clearly defining" goes beyond determining "What do you want?" to also identifying why you want it. "I want to [insert objective here] because [insert good reasons that are desired here] and if I don’t, then, [insert consequences to be avoided here] will happen and I prefer the former over the latter." Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, but until one internalizes the benefits of living cigarette-free (“I want my daughter to have her dad there to give her away on her wedding day”) it can be hard to stick with the stop-smoking efforts.

A good tool

Speaking of consistency, use a schedule for help. When you’re focused and giving your new direction your full attention, chisel out a schedule and refer to it frequently. Observing electronic chimes and reminders, whether on a PDA, smartphone or other organizational tool will help solidify the habit of time management, which is critical for success in any endeavour or enterprise.

The Challenges of the Home Office


In the movie Office Space, poor Peter Gibbons is hassled by VP after VP dropping by his cubicle to remind him that the new cover sheet should be attached before TPS reports go out. Of course, even though he’s got the memo, they’ll all make sure he gets another copy.

In an office environment, you may have a boss, a manager, a coffee-mug-toting VP, who is always there to remind you of what you should be doing now. The point is, tools are being provided and habits are being reinforced by someone else.

Annoying as it may be, there is reason for it – they do this is to keep things moving on track. When you’re at home, however, there is no Lumbergh. If you don’t leverage the power of positive habits, you may not be able to keep moving on track towards the achieving of your goals.

Have you maintained positive habits? Tell us how you do it.

© Copyright 2011  All rights reserved.