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Monkey on Your Back

Do all bad habits hurt your business? Decide which ones to give the boot.

If you're like most entrepreneurs, you probably have at least one habit you'd like to change or get rid of forever. Perhaps you waste too much time watching TV, procrastinate when it comes to marketing your business or fail to update your financial records in a timely manner.

As entrepreneurs, we have the freedom and choice to work at what we love in a manner that supports us rather than "how it's supposed to be done." What others view as poor habits may actually be important facets of our business success.

For instance, we don't need to have fixed work hours. Some days, we begin work at 6 a.m. and keep going until 10 p.m. Other days, we work in the morning, take the afternoon off and complete our business activities late at night.

Become energized by the freedom of being your own boss. The trick is to figure out which habits are just your personal choices and which are eating away your success.

1. List all the habits you feel prevent you from achieving your goals. Create a list of work-related behaviors you want to change. Distinguish these behaviors from lifestyle choices, like eating too much junk food. Don't think too hard about them--just write them down. Your mind-set is important: If you feel that something you do is negative, then it is negative.

2. Identify the habits that have the long-term potential to hurt your business, and take action. If your habits prevent you from completing tasks that move your business forward, don't get mad--get assistance. If you procrastinate updating your financial records, consider finding a coach, hiring a bookkeeper or attending a class to discuss your habits and create strategies to deal with them. Or find another entrepreneur to help you come up with proactive steps you can take to succeed. An objective person who reviews your situation will lead you to a world of possibilities.

3. List how your remaining habits benefit your business. Adjusting how you feel about certain habits allows you to transform them into benefits. Does taking a long lunch help relieve your stress? Does napping calm your mind so you can work more effectively? I know people who develop many wonderful advertising ideas by watching TV.

Instead of wasting time making up excuses, concentrate on what you learn from your unique behavior patterns. You'll be amazed at how you can actually use them to move your goals forward.

4. Stop automatically reacting negatively when you slip into old habits. Practice reversing your feelings by focusing your attention on the outcome you hope to achieve rather than the action you are taking at the moment. This positive attitude provides you with an incentive to discover unique ways to complete tasks.

5. Take a five-minute, defy-the-rules break. Let yourself have some odd habits--it's part of being alive. As you experiment with breaking the rules, seek to create positive results, no matter what action you take. Become curious, and investigate the unlimited possibilities that are revealed. Set yourself on a path to discover something new.


Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is the author of Kick Start Your Dream Business.

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This article was originally published in the April 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Monkey on Your Back.

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