The Three Steps for Forming Habits

I often ask people about their marketing programs…what marketing are you doing and how is it going for you?  People usually can identify marketing activities fairly easily.  It is the second part of my question that becomes more troublesome. Many people reply that they just can’t seem to stick to it.

A lot of marketing success is achieved by being persistent at creating a marketing habit.  Habits, good or bad, are something that takes time to develop.  Lots of people have great intentions that never quite get off the ground.

I recently came across Charles Duhigg’s newest book:  ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business’, which addresses the concept of achieving success by altering people’s habits. In this book, the author talks about ‘the habit loop’.  The habit loop is a three-part process:

  • First, “there’s a cue, which is kind of a trigger for an automatic behavior to start unfolding,”
  • Second, “there’s a routine, which is the behavior itself,”
  • Third,  “there’s a reward, which tells our brain whether we should store this habit for future use or not.”

This sounds so simple.  But is it really?  Yes and No.  However, if you can commit to creating one habit (for example, building a new relationship) over a determined period time (say 2 months), you will see that it really isn’t as difficult as you may anticipate.

People have the ability to empower themselves through creating habits.  Each step outlined above is independently important. The first step could be considered the starting point to try something new, or adopt a desirable behavior.  In our example the trigger is the desire to build a relationship with someone new. The second step, the routine, is the meaty action that will serve to build a credible basis for a relationship. In this case, routine personal interactions between you and your identified individual. The routine may be scheduling follow-up touch points in your calendar such as inviting that person to lunch, or sending them a link to an interesting blog post. Finally, the third (and most fun!) step, the reward.  After a period of time, you will experience the individual reaching back out to you. Perhaps this person initiates the next touchpoint, or even better, sends you business. Dwell on that reward and value the power of your new habit. Worth it, right? Yes!

There is strength in creating habits for business. Solid, positive behaviors over an extended period of time will always prove fruitful for business as well as personally. Enjoy the habits you have created and then identify the next good habit you want to develop through this process.