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How to Start a New Habit (And Get More Done in 2021)

how to start a new habit

When the ball dropped we entered a new era on the calendar. Sure it’s 2021, but New Year’s Day means we’ve also entered “start a new habit” season. 

If you’re like most Americans, you wake up in January determined to reform. 

This is going to be the year to make big changes. You’re going to quit junk food, journal every day or save more money. New Year, new chance to realize your potential.

And if you’re an entrepreneur you’ve got great ideas for your business too.

You want to sign new clients, hit new sales goals or even hire new team members.

But that New Year’s resolution momentum only gets you so far. More than 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.

If you want to grow your business this year you’ve got to form new habits that stick.

Here’s how:

Focus on Consistently Making Small Improvements

There’s No Such Thing as an Overnight Success

One of the main reasons our attempts to form new habits fail is that we try to change too much too quickly.

If we want to grow our business we decide to make 10 sales calls a day, launch a blog, start a podcast and cut expenses.

And what happens?

Even if we can accomplish half those things on day one, we wake up on day two completely burnt out. And if the results aren’t there we get discouraged and feel like giving up. 

The problem is that we think we can become experts overnight.

But true mastery takes time. In his book Outliers, journalist Malcolm Gladwell famously shared that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. 

If you want to start a new habit, don’t expect to be perfect at it tomorrow.

Atomic Habits

atomic habits

Instead, focus on making small improvements everyday.

That’s the advice James Clear gives in his bestseller Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results.

Clear calls it the 1-percent rule.

He says too often we think success requires massive action. Meanwhile we underestimate the value of steady increases.

Clear issues a simple challenge: figure out what action you can do today that would result in a one-percent improvement tomorrow.

A one-percent increase in anything doesn’t sound like much. You might not even notice it at first. 

But overtime, all those little changes add up. They build on each other like compound interest. A year from now they’ll make a huge difference. And because those changes came over time, you’ll be able to sustain growth for the long haul.

Set Up a System

The second mistake we make in starting a new habit is that we focus on goals instead of systems.

Goals are easy to jot down. Doubling your profits in 2021 looks great on paper.

And while that might be a great goal, it’s not where we should devote our attention.

Instead, we need to focus on systems.

Clear explains that systems are the processes that lead to results.

Systems are the real secret behind making your dreams a reality. If you can get a great system in place, the goal will take care of itself.

For example, if you want to grow your website’s presence on Google, don’t just daydream about being at the top of the results page. 

Decide that you’re going to write one SEO-rich blog every month. Schedule time to write one morning a week. Gather resources for finding relevant keywords. And then publish and promote to your mailing list.

Fall in love with that process and your goal will happen sooner than you think.

Look at Trajectory, Not Position

trajectoryFinally, to set up habits that succeed, focus on trajectory instead of position.

Position is where you are right now. Trajectory is where you’re headed.

If you focus on position you can get a false view of reality. 

Maybe you’ll look around and see you’re getting 20 leads a month. If you were hoping for 50, that’s discouraging. But what you don’t remember is that you had 10 leads last month and 5 the month before that. Your trajectory would say that you’re seeing 100% growth every month. 

Position could deceive you into giving up, but trajectory shows you that business is actually booming.

Trajectory also keeps you from falling into the opposite trap.

Maybe you did get 50 leads this month. If you only look at your position, you’re ready to pop the champagne. But if you looked at your trajectory, you’d realize you had 200 leads last month and 450 the month before that. Your trajectory shows that your business is actually in a major nose dive.

To keep your business growing, focus on a new habit that set you on the right trajectory. Continually ask yourself, “if things continue to go in this direction, where will it lead?”

May 2021 Be Your Most Productive Year Yet

Put these practices in place, and 2021 will be the most successful year you’ve seen.

Start good habits today, build on them over time and you’ll grow your business.

And if you really want to accelerate your growth this year, start a new marketing habit. Partner with Hughes Integrated, and let our proven system set your business on trajectory to surpass all your goals.

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