Every December lists appear about success. Specifically the X number of things successful people do before or during a period of time (e.g. “The 37 Things Successful People do Before Breakfast”).
These lists tend to have three common themes. First successful people make time to plan their week out either on Sunday or first thing Monday morning, non-negotiable. Second, they tend to do some type of daily gratitude. Third, they tend to have “routines” built that enable them to invest their mental and emotional energy in “bigger stuff” (e.g. hunting larger / more complex opportunities, scaling the business, leading versus doing) instead of “small stuff” (eg. prospecting, pre-call planning, weekly accountability, sales funnel management, etc.).
“Routines” typically fall into one of three categories, traps, processes and systems.
- Traps – we coach our clients to use an “if this then that” rule for creating traps (e.g. “if I’m brushing my teeth I’ll look at my vision board” or “if I make a call to a current client I’ll make a call to a prospect immediately after”). When you build your traps make sure 1) you will fall into them regularly. Building a trap around something you do once per month or less won’t create the quick wins needed for you to see progress and turn the trap activity into a habit. 2) you don’t make your trap behavior too big. Using the “client call / prospect call” example above, a quick path to failure is “if I make a call to a current client I will make 10 prospect calls.” Start by being better than zero and grow from there. Used successfully traps will stretch your comfort zone little by little, which is a more effective, sustainable way of altering your behavior.
- Processes – processes are the “what” you need to do for a specific activity (e.g. pre-call planning). Good processes take the form of templates or check lists, but if you catch yourself going through a process with a “check the box” attitude then it’s time to re-assess you process and determine if you could delegate that process to free up more mental and emotional energy. If you can’t delegate because you don’t have a resource or it’s part of your roles and responsibilities you’ve developed headtrash around the process that needs to be removed before your headtrash becomes task avoidance.
- Systems – systems are the “how” you execute your processes. Put another way “the system drives the process.” Systems create a consistent, repeatable result. An effective system that many of our clients use is calendar blocking, which is also a trap. For the creative minded systems may feel like literal traps designed to stifle their creativity. This is focusing as, David Sandler said, “on the wrong end of the problem.” A properly designed system frees the creative’s mind to work on creative work instead of getting sucked into details that usually fry a creative’s brain.
You may struggle to create traps, identify processes and make systems. That’s normal. Enroll a friend or trusted adviser into your trap, process and system building. You’ll likely discover easier or better traps, processes or systems to which you were blind.
Until next time… go invest your energy on the “bigger stuff”
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