How do you solve a problem like a habit?

12 Aug 2013

I recently turned 30. It wasn’t particularly traumatic, but it did start me thinking about my long term health. I had always tried to eat well and exercise regularly, but since turning 30 I have made more of an effort. This has meant that I have had to start up several new habits and stick to them. I started cycling to work, not a difficult habit to stick to when the weather is good, I don’t know how well I’ll do with this habit once the temperature starts to drop this autumn.

I’ve also made more of an effort to get my 5-a-day. Also not a difficult habit to stick to, especially since I’ve noticed that I have more energy and that I generally feel better in myself. It also doesn’t hurt that my clothes are fitting a lot better.

Most of the tricks and suggestions you’ll find online for starting and maintaining a new habit are useful when trying to stick to a diet or new exercise regime. People suggest leaving yourself notes on the cupboard door reminding you to avoid those tasty-looking chocolate biscuits. Other people might tell you to get a buddy who can keep you motivated to go for that run every morning. There’s even an app for it! Lift was designed to use social media the way people use a buddy system when trying to start up and stick to a new habit. You log in that you’ve gone for a run or avoided a piece of chocolate cake and your friends can comment on it, supporting you in the formation of that new habit.

I’ve always thought, however, that the best motivator to keeping up a new habit is seeing the benefit of it in your everyday life. If you’re starting a diet or a new exercise routine, the best motivator is when those numbers start to drop on your scales or your jeans feel that tiny bit looser.

Starting to use a new CRM system means starting a new habit something you start doing the moment you get a new piece of information, entering customer data and interactions into your system automatically. Now you could put a post-it note on your monitor or set up a buddy system to check that you’re both remembering to use the new system. But I think, as with any habit, once you see the benefit of it, you’ll be hooked. When you see how easily your data can be retrieved and tracked you’ll find that you’ve started a new habit, one that doesn’t feel onerous because you can see the benefit of it in your day to day life.