Change your habit in 21 days

We’re over a week in to February — perilous territory for we New Year’s resolution-setters. How are your goals for the new year holding up?

When we make promises to do something differently, start something new, or stick with a plan, what we’re really attempting is behavior change. It takes 21 days to change a habit, according to Dr. Maxwell Maltz and his book Psycho-Cybernetics. I’ve certainly seen this to be true when coaching and changing communication behavior (give or take a week or two!). By the way, that’s 21 consecutive days, not a couple days this week, a couple next week..

So, while most of us likely made personal resolutions to eat better, volunteer more, what-have-you, it’s not too late to make (or revive) a resolution for your professional life. Here are some to get you thinking:

  • Hold meetings without smart phones or laptops to keep the participants on task and move the meetings faster.
  • Use Skype or video conferencing to have “face-to-face” conversations with team mates in other offices or clients to build more connection.
  • Video tape yourself when preparing for high-stakes presentations and then watch it back — look for your posture, what you’re doing with your hands, and if you’re smiling.
  • Voice record your conference calls and listen back to see if you can improve on vocal variety (avoid the monotone!) or cut down on non-words like um, uh, so, and..
  • Make it a habit to put down the smart phone and disengage from the laptop screen when someone is speaking with you. Instead, make eye contact and connect.
  • Quickly and efficiently flesh out an agenda before you lead a meeting or conference call instead of winging it. You’ll come across more focused, prepared, and your participants will respect you for it.
  • Start meetings, calls, presentations, etc., on time and end them on time. Period.
  • Volunteer to present at the team meeting or join a speaking group like Toastmasters to keep up the practice.

Today could be day one of your 21-ish day journey, so what are you going to do? Please share  your ideas or previous resolutions in the comments!

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Maxwell Maltz said it takes 21 days to change a habit. In training over 300,000 people over the last 30 years our company has found that to be precisely true (give or take a week or two!) Our communications behavior is made up of literally dozens of habits, which we … Continue reading

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