It’s a truth universally acknowledged. Many of us start a new year with explicit resolutions. Another commonly accepted truth? That the year is barely started when we start to break our resolutions.
(About 41 percent of Americans make resolutions every year for personal or professional improvement. About a third of those who make them break those resolutions by the second week of the year.)
Maybe you didn’t make explicit resolutions for your agency. But, you probably have some mental goals for what you want to achieve in your agency in 2017.
No matter how motivated you are, you will fall back into old habits. They die hard, right?
So success in achieving a resolution is not how determined you are in the beginning. It’s how you respond when you inevitably slip back into your old ways.
Why it is easy to fall back into old habits
We’ve all done it. We set a goal for ourselves. We had some success. Then we slid back into our previous habits.
Why do we backslide when we thought we overcame those habits? Psychologists call this common mental miscalculation restraint bias.
As we have success toward our goal, we begin to overestimate our impulse control. So we start exposing ourselves more to temptation. We think bending the rules a little bit will be okay because we have new, better habits now. But, ultimately, our impulsiveness wins. We forget change is not a one-and-done decision but an ongoing one.
Explicit resolution or unofficial goal, it doesn’t matter. There is something you want to change or improve in your agency this year.
Maybe you want to blog every week. Or, you want to spend some time every day posting and engaging with your social media followers. Or you want to focus more on working ON your business instead of in it. Or, you want to improve your data security.
Whatever it is, it is easy to let old habits take over instead of working towards your goal. Especially if your goal involves a task you’re new to.
You’re not alone. It’s a struggle for everyone.
What to do when you fall back into old habits
Take comfort knowing you’re not alone in breaking your resolutions in improving your agency. Here’s how you can get back on track and achieve those goals.
Think about why you fell back into your old habits. You may want to blame the system or yourself, but try not to. Look at it as an opportunity to learn and improve your process.
Say your goal was to blog on your insurance agency website every week. You started off great and blogged for the first couple weeks. Then week three you didn’t.
Ask yourself some questions. What happened that pushed this down your priority list? Was there a trigger event like a last-minute client request? Was there unusual circumstances like you were sick? Is this routine unsustainable? How can you make it more attainable?
Now you know why you went back to old habits. Next, decide what you need to tweak so it becomes a new habit.
If last-minute requests displaced blogging as your priority, block out time on your calendar. Only let truly urgent matters break into that time.
If writing a blog post in one sitting is unsustainable, break the task into smaller pieces. For example, on Mondays, brainstorm a topic and start research. On Tuesdays, continue research and write an outline. On Wednesdays, write your ugly first draft. On Thursdays, review and edit. On Fridays, publish or schedule your post for the next week.
3. Check in frequently
Keep track of what you work on and review it on a regular basis. If it’s a daily habit you’re trying to create, assess daily. If it’s weekly, look at it at least once a week.
Look for digressions in your routine and adjust accordingly. Frequent check ins will help you avoid slipping back into those old, unproductive habits.
A slip into an old, unproductive habit does not mean you have to give up that resolution. It’s an opportunity to learn and adjust so you can move forward on your agency improvement goals.