Forming & Breaking Habits
Science tells us it takes 21 days to form a habit. For example, if you drink a bottle of water first thing in the morning, every day for three weeks, you will no longer need to think about hydrating in the morning; you’ll just do it. On the flip side, habits can be tough to break once formed, causing us to spend most of our time doing what we’ve always done. If we’re used to power dialing, we settle into this behavior even if we have a named account book of only 200 customers. If we’ve done relational sales, we might spend an inordinate amount of energy wooing customers even though we’ve moved to transactional.
Habits become habits because once we start to cut a groove, we return to it again and again, which makes the groove deeper and deeper. Somewhere in the process, the groove becomes the most comfortable and familiar approach. This presents the major challenge in achieving performance breakthroughs in sales as it requires breaking old habits and walking away from the tracks we’ve mentally carved out over the years.
Rewiring our instincts is no easy feat. It requires effort and support. You constantly need to form habits, break habits, and fill in the groove to flexibly update your approach. You can start by modeling a new habit, usually with something small that you can pick up and work with right away. From there, it becomes easier to commit to doing something entirely new, expanding your skillset and broadening your capabilities. In the relational example above, a mini-habit might be to start asking for a credit card after the first or second call and eventually working into building urgency across your communication map.
Good performers can form & maintain strong habits. Great performers, the best, can just as easily break them.