Over the past year, I have created positive habits that have had a profound impact on my life. I've lost weight. To understand what this really means to me, you have to understand that I have been fat ever since I was a child. Over the years I have piled on the pounds, year in, year out and nothing I tried to do seemed to get the weight off at all.
Whilst I don't want this post to be about how I've started to lose weight and why it seems to be working this time, it does lead me onto a subject that is very important when you set yourself up to create content for your business. You see, my weight loss is because, over the past year, I have been creating positive habits in my life. For me, this has happened organically but, as I've been able to see the benefits, I have started trying to form of these more positive habits on purpose.
In business, one of the best habits you can form is that of content creation. We all should be blogging, making videos and re-engaging with our audiences on social media, and networking events or tradeshows and the like. We don't do it. Largely, this is because it takes time out of our already packed days. For some, it's because they don't know what to say in the first place (if that's your issue, there is plenty you can do to keep that content flowing). But, both of those situations come down to a single thing, you haven't formed the "content creating habit" yet!
Today, I want to look at exactly what you can do to form a habit for creating content that will keep your blogs, videos and social media posts updated and engaging without it feeling like you have more overwhelming tasks to do.
Actually, you don't even need to take my word for it. Check out this Ted talk on the power of forming positive habits...
In this talk, David Nevins describes the ability to create dramatic life change by forming habits.
Many people look to success stories to aid with their business and give them useful tips. These stories can be inspiring, but can also deter you from your goals if you believe that the business owners had, in some way, a "better start" than you.
Making these kinds of excuses is a limiting belief that we see in business all the time and yet people are aware of how important it is to form these positive habits. After all, one of the best-selling business books in the world is the seven habits of highly effective people. Over the years the content of this book is been expanded on to cover many different areas.
The main problem, of course, is that most people don't know how to form the habits in the first place and will usually try a task once or twice before giving up altogether.
I have to admit, I am as guilty of this as everyone, more so with my weight loss goals but also in business, as my clients and services of changed.
It's clear that, if you can form the positive habits laid out in Stephen Covey's book, you are more likely to become a "highly effective" person.
The great thing is, the same is true of content creation, which always seems to be one of the bugbears of the modern entrepreneur.
The fact is, if you think you're too busy to create content for your business then that's your choice. You choose to be busy, you choose when you downtime is, you choose what your working life looks like. That's the very essence of being self-employed in the first place. What I would like you all to do is say to yourself "I have time to write a blog. I have time to make videos. I have time to post on social media." You then need to carve out a small part of each day where you'll be working on these particular tasks.
The great thing is, once you've been doing this for a little while creating a new blog or video will only take you a short amount of time. In fact, I've been timing myself whilst creating this article for you and is any take around half an hour. Now, of course, there are some little tips and tricks that I use to help speed up content creation (such as dictating my articles instead of typing them), but that's for another blog post.
Once you have your time set aside, it's now time to start your habit. Here's some advice from James Clear on the subject:
Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3–step pattern.
- Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
- Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
- Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
I call this framework “The 3 R's of Habit Change,” but I didn't come up with this pattern on my own. It’s been proven over and over again by behavioral psychology researchers.
This is a bit like a trigger, something that gives you a visual cue or an auditory queue that will set your mind into performing the action. If you want to remember to floss your teeth each morning (as James states in his article) you can do so by putting a bowl of floss next to your toothbrush.
But, reminders don't need to be complicated at all (or even connect with the action you're going to take).
If you have a set time every day where you will be creating this content, you can easily set a reminder using your phone to actually sit down and start writing.
In order to create content, it's a great idea to set yourself a little time at the beginning to take a look at some blogs that are relevant to your industry. Not only will this help you get ideas about what to write but it will also kick your brain into a different level of thinking about your subject.
To begin with, your routine needs to be something that is very easy to do each day. You need to allow yourself little privileges at the beginning so that forming the routine doesn't seem like an arduous task.
I would also suggest, in the first few weeks of doing this, you give yourself a set timeframe to write for your business. During this time, allow yourself to write whatever comes into your head. If you don't finish a particular piece of work when your time runs out, don't worry just continue with the next day.
Remember, the goal here is consistency and routine. Don't try and make this any more complicated than it needs to be otherwise you will soon find yourself battling against your habit-forming desire.
This, of course, is the fun bit and I would urge you to have as much fun and be as creative as possible with the rewards that you come up with. In its simplest form, if you have a midmorning break (for example) you can choose not to take that break until your writing is done. Of course, the more outlandish and exciting the rewards the better and I've seen people use their favourite foods or activities to reward themselves after a successful writing stint.
Setting a positive habit is possibly the most important thing you can do to help with your business is digital marketing. It's not just writing, of course, video creation and social media scheduling is just as important, depending on where your main traffic is coming from.
The fact is, a modern Internet business is reliant on regular content that is highly relevant to your audience. Forming positive habits can be the difference between you running a successful digital marketing campaign or a damp squib.