198. Plan Ahead.

Having long been a master of the Habit of Procrastination, and dealing with the ensuing frustration, I made a decision this morning.

Writing two blogs each week is not a big task and is, generally, something I look forward to. It has long been my habit to write my Wednesday blog either on a Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning and my Saturday blog either on Friday night or Saturday morning.

There have been many occasions when other commitments have kept me out late on a Wednesday or Friday night and while Saturday, being a weekend day, affords me the luxury of a little extra time, Wednesdays are workdays and writing a blog before heading for the office does not make for an orderly start to the day.

There is a certain spontaneity to my Saturday blog that does allow me the luxury of waiting until the last minute but Wednesdays are a different story.

As you know, the theme for Wednesdays is habits and I write about the same habit for three consecutive Wednesdays which means I know well in advance what the topic is and yet my gift of procrastination causes me to leave my writing until the evening is well underway.

Last night, however, things were different. I arrived home around 6 PM leaving myself just enough time to go downstairs and attend our monthly condo board meeting.

That meeting began at 6:30 and ended at 9 PM allowing me time to go back to my home and complete work on a presentation I am delivering this morning.

I finished my presentation at 11:45 and it was at that moment I was reminded that Wednesday was a few minutes away and, not only had I not written a blog, I had not yet even thought of the habit to write about for the following three weeks.

It was then I realized that my brain had turned in for the night and that unless I was willing to post a blog that looked like this: ekvhrog erndf jeusdmw keoxje, I was not going to get one done before calling it a day.

That was when I made a decision. I have promised myself for a long time that I would create an inventory of future blogs that would be available to be used in a pinch and that, every fourth week when I began writing about a new habit I would get a head-start on the following two weeks to break the cycle of last-minute panic.

Now I know you’re thinking “skip a week, or two or three – nobody would care.”

Sadly, I would care for reasons I will share with you when I introduce a new habit three weeks from now.

Today I would like to introduce The Habit of Planning Ahead. I do not have much experience with this habit as I only adopted it a few minutes ago but as I do not intend to have a repeat of last night’s sleeplessness with blog topics bouncing through my head like waves frantic to reach the shore, I made a commitment to myself to break the curse of last-minute anxiety and build that inventory of blogs for future use.

And I have already put into practice The Habit of Planning Ahead by getting a head start on next week’s blog and the one for the week following that.

I’m a pretty stubborn person which means I probably will stick with The Habit of Planning Ahead despite yearning for the good old days of procrastination. I must say that knowing that next week’s blog is almost complete provides a feeling of calmness I am enjoying at this moment.

I don’t have a lot to say about this new habit yet but I invite all of you who live your lives with The Habit of Planning Ahead firmly entrenched, as well as those of you who feel married to procrastination, to post your comments and thoughts on the value of this habit for all to see.

And if you can’t find the time to do that this week, then please plan to do so next Wednesday.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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197. Be consistent about the right things.

A conversation with Gloria earlier this week gave me a new perspective on The Habit of Consistency and the role it has played in shaping all of our lives.

Gloria tells me she is an avid reader of my blogs and thought her interpretation of The Habit of Consistency would be of sufficient interest that I would want to use it in a future posting.

She was absolutely right and that future is now.

Gloria told me her entire life had been what she called a “start – stop” journey and that she had been enormously consistent in her inability to bring and sustain change of any kind into her life.

Over the course of “many decades” she had initiated attempt after attempt to bring about lasting changes in her efforts to improve both her physical and emotional health.

She acknowledged that smoking had, for many years, been the bane of her life and yet repeated attempts at quitting accomplished nothing other than provide her with brief respites from the addiction.

The same was true for her many attempts at weight loss, her ongoing efforts at getting into shape by joining a gym and then abandoning it after a few brief visits, and the numerous Toastmasters clubs she had joined, only to disappear after attending a few meetings.

With a sad attempt at humour Gloria explained she has mastered The Habit of Consistency in that she consistently abandoned all her attempts at self-improvement shortly after she began to see and feel some result.

To her consistency meant the determination to “stick with it until…” and her history was filled with examples of her failure to do so.

She was not calling to elicit sympathy but rather to tell me that she finally was able to use The Habit of Consistency to bring great and permanent improvement of life.

The catalyst for this change occurred some time ago when her friend introduced her to what she calls “The Power of 100.”

Her friend encouraged her to stick with anything she attempted until she completed 100 cycles of the change process.

This meant that if she attempted, yet again, to quit smoking, under no circumstances would she allow herself the wicked pleasure of even one puff of a cigarette until she had completed 100 days of being smoke-free.

It also meant that if she rejoined a Toastmasters club she would absolutely commit herself to remain in that club as a participating member, with no option of quitting, until she attended 100 meetings.

Gloria’s friend had made significant progress in her own life by becoming a teetotaler after spending years flailing against the ravages of alcoholism and her success inspired Gloria to adopt The Habit of Consistency by pledging commitment to The Power of 100.

Gloria believes The Power of 100 is a powerful gateway to The Habit of Consistency. She is convinced that completing 100 cycles of an event is more than enough to create a habit and that success in her life is driven by the habits she acquires.

As I listened to her, I began to see the extraordinary value available to us all through The Power of 100 and if The Habit of Consistency was in need of an ally in order to guide us to where we want to be, then we now know how to deploy this ally to our great advantage.

Most results in our lives – the good and the not so good – come from those things we do over and over again and The Habit of Consistency is a powerful tool to guide us to where we want to be.

Consistency unquestionably produces results. The Habit of Consistency combined with The Power of 100 offers us unlimited opportunity to create life we want.

Like Nike implores us to, just do it.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

Mea Culpa

“Who is Mike?”

This is a question that was put to me many times last week. Those of you who read my blogs will recall that last week I was talking about my friend Tony when all of a sudden he became Mike and many of you, quite rightly, took me to task for not noticing.

I offer no excuse but please allow me to put forth an explanation.

I allowed myself to succumb to a powerful force known as priming.

Let me explain.

As I was nearing the completion of the blog my phone rang and Mike was the person calling.

We talked for more than 30 minutes during which time I called him by name repeatedly.

As soon as we ended the call I went back to complete the blog without realizing that by repeating his name as often as I had, I had primed myself to insert Mike into my blog.

Priming is a powerful tool, and one we often use to set the tone for our immediate future.

For example, if we begin each day by dedicating time to setting ourselves up for the day ahead through positive affirmation and powerful expectation, we will set ourselves on a course for a powerful, productive and successful day.

Conversely, if we begin the day by allowing thoughts of frustration, anger and despair into our being, we will have primed ourselves to expect that to be our experience.

Mike is a reader of my blogs and he too called to point out my error. And when I explained to him how this came about he made me promise never to call him Tony.

I will do better from now on.

196. Pleasant surprises often come from practising good habits.

Last week I introduced The Habit of Consistency and a strange thing happened.

Over the seven years since I published my first blog, I have received calls from people inquiring about the type of work I do. On a few occasions these calls have led to meetings and occasionally these meetings have led to acquiring new clients.

The process from posting a blog to having the person agree to work with me usually unfolds over several weeks or even several months.

As is my custom, I post a blog under the Habits Cause Have Its title every Wednesday morning and last Wednesday was no exception.

Around 2PM that afternoon my phone rang. The person on the other end introduced himself as Tony and went on to say that for several months he has been thinking of hiring a coach to work with him, has met and interviewed several and, despite having never met me, he decided earlier that morning to hire me.

In my 25 years of providing coaching services I have never been hired by a client over the phone without first having met them in person or, at the very least, completed several lengthy telephone discussions.

Naturally, I was curious and, after thanking Tony (and complimenting him on a very wise choice), I asked him what had prompted his decision.

Tony told me that he and I have been connected on LinkedIn for several years (we have never met) and that he has been reading both of my weekly blogs since the day we first connected.

Earlier that morning he had been reading my blog about The Habit of Consistency when it dawned on him that both of my blogs appear on his LinkedIn feed like clockwork every week, one on Saturdays and one on Wednesdays.

He then went to my LinkedIn profile and verified that, in fact, my blogs were posted twice a week going back a lot longer than he has been reading them and that was when he decided that I was the coach he wanted to work with

He explained that it was my blog on The Habit of Consistency that opened his eyes to the fact that I practice consistency with unfailing regularity. Tony has long believed that a vital characteristic of achieving success is inextricably linked to The Habit of Consistency.

He went on to tell me that having published blogs without ever missing a beat gave him confidence that by working with me he could develop and apply similar consistency to his own life, hence the phone call.

I suggested to Tony that as flattered as I was by his decision, it would be a good idea for us to meet and spend little time getting to know each other before finalizing an agreement.

I spent a delightful hour with Tony on Friday and we scheduled a date for our work to begin next week.

I have long been a believer in the power of consistency and Tony’s call to me last week, and our subsequent meeting, confirmed both its importance and necessity if we wish to produce results of value.

The Habit of Consistency is a powerful ally and one that I invite each of you to explore with the intention of habituating this practice into your own very being.

It’s a wonderful habit to get into.

Plus, it pays really well.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

195. Consistency breeds results.

An old maxim from the world of advertising reminds us that 50% of all money spent on advertising is wasted.

The question, of course, has always been which 50%

And this remains a question without an answer.

And yet the demand created by continuous advertising is one of the key drivers behind our economy.

So what is it that causes businesses worldwide to continuously support a process with a known, and virtually guaranteed, failure rate of 50%?

The answer lies in a single word: consistency.

Advertisers have long ago learned that their marketing efforts will produce predictable results if they simply follow the rule of doing the same things over and over again.

In other words, businesses have learned the power of advertising is as much about the content, quality and appeal generated by an advertisement as it is about displaying that same advertisement often.

In fact, there is a growing body of data that points to the power of familiarity. This means that the more we are exposed to information, the more comfortable we become with it, and the more likely we are to want it for our own.

The Habit of Consistency it is also the habit of following a tried and proven method of producing results.

If we take a moment to examine the characteristics of great business success, there are three that stand out for their prevalence in almost all instances of mega-success.

Those three are:

Consistency.

Replicability.

Sustainability.

Consistency lies of the top of the list because it is consistency that brings us back for more.

In previous postings we have discussed the role that unmet expectations play in the development of conflict and, in the case of businesses, customer dissatisfaction.

Whenever we make a purchase we do so with a certain expectation of what we will receive and when that expectation goes unmet we become prime candidates for discontent with that business. That company from which we made the purchase then runs the risk not only of losing us as a customer but also of losing the business of all those with whom we share our disappointing experience.

Businesses that understand this place laser-like focus on ensuring customer’s expectations are either met or exceeded, and to do this they place great emphasis on consistency.

Commitment to the enforcement of consistency has enabled companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway and many others to enjoy massive growth because we, as customers, know exactly what we will get when we order food from these companies and seldom, if ever, are we disappointed.

A cheeseburger from one McDonald’s is exactly the same as a cheeseburger from another even if the two locations are continents apart.

The Habit of Consistency is firmly embedded in their business plan.

And consistency is the secret sauce that enables all of those who wish to bring permanent change into their lives, to realize, and then enjoy the benefits such change brings, for a long period of time.

Working out at a gym once a month, regardless of how intensely you do so, cannot come close to competing with the benefits you will derive from visiting that same gym three times per week, every week. Spending one full day per month making sales calls will almost certainly reap some rewards. Those rewards will pale into insignificance when compared with the rewards from spending 30 minutes every weekday doing the same thing.

It is said that if you were to spend one hour per day reading and studying a given topic then, at the end of five years the consistency of your effort will result in you being recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on that topic.

Consistency means the sameness, frequency and regularity with which we deliver products services and effort and, if we are indeed planning on welcoming vastness into our lives then consistency must play an enormous role in the execution of that plan.

The Habit of Consistency is one we cannot afford to set aside.

I will say this again next week and then again the week after.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.