Three Power Questions

Did you know that your success in life or in business begins with your habits?     A partial definition of habit is “…an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”   It is easy to underestimate the power of both good and bad habits and their influence on the success or failure of the achievement of your goals and success in your business.  You actually become your habits.   You form habits and then your habits form you.

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What most people fail to do when formulating a plan for success or setting goals in their business or life, is to reflect on their habits of the past.  Why is this important?  Reflection on your past habits can help you to determine which habits you should continue, those you should stop and new habits you should develop to insure success in the future.  There is an old Chinese proverb which says “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny”.   You will become what you repeatedly do.   You will become your habits.

Why not consider the “Keep, Stop, Start” process in reflecting on your habits  to examine if you are working at your maximum potential.  One of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle of success will be the habits you KEEP which have proven successful for you in the past, the habits you STOP which you realize are detrimental to your life or career, and the habits you START which you know have a proven track record of success in your own life or the lives of others.

Here are three power questions you should ask yourself as you reflect on your habits:

The first question to ask is “What habit or habits should I KEEP?”  If you know that you have incorporated a habit into your business or life which has worked beautifully, then by all means, keep doing it.    An example might be the habit of five hand written note cards each week which has earned you the reputation of a thoughtful and thankful person.  Another habit might be starting each day with a list of the action items necessary to achieve the goals you have set – a checklist for the day.

The second question to ask is “What habit or habits should I STOP?”  If there is a habit which you know is detrimental to your life, health, marriage or business, then you already know you should STOP that habit.  You can either conquer your bad habit or it will conquer you.  Consider writing out the consequences you know will happen if you continue along the same path, with the same habits leading to failure.  Instill a good habit to take the place of the bad habit.  If you have the habit of consistently showing up late – either to work, events, church, appointments – then to stop that bad habit, you need to form the new habit of showing up early to take its place.  Which leads to the third and final question:

“What habit should I START?”  Most of the time, you already know the habits which would work, but we all make excuses for why we don’t do  them.  Or we just fail to think about it.    Successful people are simply those with successful habits.  What habit could you form today which could lead to success over the next few months?    One example of a good habit is that of Warren Buffett:   “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business.  I read and think.  So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.”  Could the habit of just reading a few pages every day of a good book and then thinking or reflecting on what you have read be a good habit to start?

To achieve success, what habits should you keep?  What habits should you stop?  What habits should you start?  Benjamin Franklin said “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.

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