Often it’s said that without a goal, people wander about aimlessly. Well, after 40 years of life, I am inclined to agree. One thing I am learning is the importance of habits, routines, a schedule. I will not pretend that I have mastered following a schedule, but I do believe that the most effective and successful people live by them and so shall I.
I learned in my first few years of direct sales that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, I thought… what a great idea for a monthly challenge. Every month for the first 21 days, I challenge myself to practice a skill that will help me improve professionally. So, for example, I am not great about making my 6 most important activities to do the next day list. I call it my six list. The six list is another early direct sales training idea that I really believe is fundamental to successful habits, so I want it to be my habit.
I make the list each evening and then check it each morning so that I have some direction in my day. I like calendars. I use them, there the merrier. I think it has something to do with the OCD virgo in me. Never the less, a calendar is essential for a 21 day challenge of any sort. I like to cross off the days as they pass to give me a visual off my success and length of time left. It reminds me of when I am in the canoe racing. I know I just have to get to the flag and then I can stop racing. There is no option, no bail out, no quit, no matter what, get the flag. That is what calendar does for me visually; it gets me to the flag. So pick an activity to enhance your skill, get a calendar and finally choose a reward for day 22. You would be surprised at how significant this act really is. Now, do not reward yourself with sleeping in if your 21 day habit was to wake up early to be more productive. That would totally defeat the purpose of the entire challenge, instead choose something like new pajamas or a new mug for your evening apothecherry drink. I think rewarding yourself with something related to your challenge goal rather than just anything is helpful because it will always be a reminder of exactly what challenge you accomplished. For my six list example, a great reward would be a new notepad or pen to keep by my bed to make my list with. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it just has to make sense to you and be what you would like.
So here we are, at the beginning of the month. Perfect time to take the challenge. Since I used it as an example and it really is something I struggle with, but when I use it I find such feelings of accomplishment so, my challenge for this month will be to make my 6 list each night before bed and to check it at least once every morning. 21 days to make it stick forever… I hope.