My 66 Days to a New Habit

66 day

I’ve tried many times to establish new habits in my life and truthfully, have never been successful. Sure I’ve had moments, and even months, where I felt I had created a new habit, but none really stuck. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “Do something for 31 days and it will be a habit.” Horse manure is what I think of that saying, as I have done many things for 31 days yet it never became a true habit. I sort of chuckled the first time my boss passed out “amazing” 66 day challenge sheets. She proclaimed simply pick anything and do it for 66 days straight at will be a habit. I love her, but talk about over simplifying such a task. I’m sure many people can simply will themselves to do something for 66 days in a row. I tried on three separate occasions. Each time I was confident I had it. I made it all the way to 18 days on my first attempt. I proclaimed to the universe I was going to exercise for 30 minutes each night as if the world could hold me accountable. The next time I said I would not drink beer and made it a whole week. On the third attempt, I said I would send a daily text to my children each morning reminding them how much I love them. I did that one 31 days straight. It should have stuck, right? It didn’t!

Then I read the book The Power of Habit which does an amazing job  explaining why we have habits and how there short cuts, or as I prefer to think, the brains way of maximizing its time by just running a loop that requires no thought to perform the task. I am a bit lazy by nature so this made total sense to me.

basal-ganglia2

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Live and Business by Charles Duhigg

Okay, so it was awesome that I better understood why I formed habits and I felt better knowing it’s simply my brain trying to be more efficient. I’m not sure why that made me feel better, but it took a habit from being a bad thing or a good thing to simply being an automatic response. I always wondered how I could drive for long stretches of time and have no recollection of it. I was on autopilot and that isn’t by itself a bad thing. But, it didn’t help me move any closer to changing or creating a new habit on purpose which is what I desperately wanted. In the graphic below you see what appears to be a simple key to the formation and pattern of any habit loop: cue, routine and a reward.

habits_550_rev

In the past when I would try to establish a new habit, I never consciously considered these three things. My main focus was on the routine (habit). I knew I needed to keep the routine easily definable and finite, but I had spent little or no time considering cues or rewards. At best, I thought of the cue as the start of my routine, but never as a separate crucial component.

Let’s examine the cues and rewards for the 66 day challenge I just completed. The habit I wanted to establish was exercising every day for at least 30 minutes. Ironically, the 66 day challenge manifested the cue, routine and reward by magic. My stepdaughter in a manic state declared she would help me get healthy and “we’d do it together.” She declared we shall rise each morning at 5 a.m. go to the gym and workout for an hour then come home and drink delicious nutritious smoothies.

While I was not at all stoked by the idea of dragging my tired ass out of bed at 5 in the morning, I am more of a 6:30 a.m. stumble to the bathroom for a shower kind of guy. I was excited to have a partner in this endeavor. You know someone I could lean on and we could encourage each other when the other lacked the will to push forward. The first morning went off without a hitch. I had set my cues in place. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and had layed my tennis shoes, socks, underwear, T-shirt, shorts and ear buds in a tidy pile, so I was good to go. The cue is imperative, in my case it is the laying out the clothes the night before or as I learned setting them out for the whole week was best. I only had to set my alarm the first night and awoke each morning since without it. So at the end of day one, we high-fived each other and said how great we feel. This was the reward I was counting on for this 66 day challenge.

Day 2 at 5 a.m. I got up, dressed and looked around for my stepdaughter who hadn’t stirred yet. Being an encouraging partner, I stroll into her room to find her sound asleep. I gently shake her on her shoulder and kindly say it’s time to go workout and sadly not to my surprise I hear her say, “I am going to work out later today.” I shrug in disappointment, but I had expected from the start she was more talk than action. I go and workout for an hour and return back sweaty and wide awake. Then it happened, I felt the overwhelming desire to needle her or say to her see I did it and you didn’t. I sent her a simple text that read, “Day 2 check.” I am embarrassed to admit it but sending that text provided me with tremendous joy. If I were a dog being trained to do a new trick it was my equivalent to the tastiest dog treat every made! I was hooked.

Dog Treat

Day 3 I awoke again at 5 a.m. and the pattern repeated. I smiled with glee as I sent off my text that read, “Day 3 check!” I did the same on day 4, however, I didn’t bother trying to wake her as honestly if she did come it would have messed up my reward system. I continued to send her a text daily until my challenge was complete.

Truthfully, I’ve never had such a powerful reward for a behavior and while it may not be cool to poke fun at another person’s failure while gloating at my own accomplishment, it clearly demonstrated that in the past I hadn’t had a strong reward in place. For me, it appears the reward is more important than the cue and the routine. This thought was reinforced when I was watching a Sunday morning TV show where a dog trainer explains how he picks out a dog to train from a shelter. He said and I quote, “It is important the dog have a high food drive.” What he is really saying is that it is much easier to establish a new habit/routine if the animal loves the food reward. It turns out I am a lot like a dog without a high food drive, so I need to make sure I have a reward I really enjoy.

I am now contemplating my next 66 day challenge and with each new idea I am more focused on what my reward will be than the routine nor the cues. I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and advice.

 

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Facebook Experiment

experiment

Recently, a colleague told me a Facebook post that is shared by several people just after it is published is more likely to be placed into other people’s news feeds. Being a skeptic, I decided to run an experiment to test this theory. I sent a simple text message to 30 people (friends, co-workers and clients) asking them to share and comment on a post I had made regarding the Portland Real Estate market.

What my 30 “test” subjects didn’t know was that they were actually the experiment. I wanted to see how many of the 30 would actually follow-up on my request. I was shocked by the results. Out of the 30 requests, 25 people shared and commented on my post which was 83%! The 5 that didn’t complete the request? 2 close family members and 2 people were out-of-town on vacation and they asked if were too late to participate the next day.

What can be learned from this little experiment? If you ask people to help you, they will. Take a minute and think of one thing that others could do to help you in your career, with your family or to grow your business and then run your own experiment.

Below are 4 keys to increase the likelihood your request gets carried out:

  • Make them feel special for being asked
  • Make sure the ask is clearly stated
  • Create a sense of urgency for it to be completed
  • Thank them in advance for helping you

Last thought, I truly did want to learn if my post got extra eyeballs. I know without a doubt it did, but since the post wasn’t a video Facebook didn’t display the number of views. So looks like I’ll have to try it again but I’ll use a video next time.

The New Head Shot

No one thinks twice about spending a few bucks on a well done head shot. We get our head shot and we place it everywhere. We put it on our business cards, our signature lines on our emails, LinkedIn, Facebook, our websites, our blogs and on our marketing materials.

Traditional head shots where designed for a “paper” world in the sense that it was a big deal at some point to have your picture on printed materials, but we are living less and less in a “paper” world. We now live in the digital age where everyone has access to the internet and moving images have replaced the still photography of the past. While I still fully believe a head shot is important. It is ever more important to have a head shot that better matches the world in which we currently reside.

So, a 30 to 60 second self promoting well done video is the new head shot. Below you’ll find my recently completed video head shot. I’d love to hear your feedback and what suggestions you have for creative ways such a video could be utilized.

5 Sales Tips I Learned From My Roomba – Stevie

Roomba

Stevie has changed my life!

When Stevie arrived via Amazon Prime, I was like a 4 year old on Christmas. I had wanted a Roomba for several years and after hearing raving reviews from my boss and our tech guru I was convinced I had to get one. Stevie has not disappointed! In fact, Stevie inspired me the first day. I stood in awe as my little Robot went right to work vacuuming my home like it had never been cleaned before. I still find myself at times just watching him as he maneuvers around  the many obstacles in our house.

Here are the 5 things Stevie has taught me so far.

  1. Be Consistent  Stevie cleans 7 days a week for 2 solid hours a day. Once Stevie leaves his docking station he is all business. He works non stop with only one goal in mind. He is out to find as much hair, dust and dirt as he can. I am shocked each time I dump his daily findings. As sales people, imagine how much we could accomplish each day if we consistently worked 2 hours every day with one singular purpose in mind. If we could be unwavering in the pursuit of our most important never changing goal.
  2. Don’t expect to get it all done at once  While Stevie does a great job cleaning each time he takes off on his daily search and capture missions, he doesn’t have the capacity to gather much more than a handful of debris. So, he does his best each day and collects all he can, but he never gets it all in a single outing. We as sales people need to have the same mindset if we are to build long lasting relationships. Trust is the underlying glue for any relationship and you rarely build trust instantly. Rather, you gain a bit more each day you show up and do what others expect from you.
  3. Take time to recharge your batteries. One of the most amazing features of a Roomba is its ability to automatically return to its charging station after cleaning. After working at a brisk pace for over an hour, Stevie knows he needs to find his home to recharge his batteries. We are no different. We need to recharge each night if we are going to be are best each day. I know it is a cliche but taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally are essential to perform at a peak level.
  4. It is good to ask for help. On Stevie’s third day, I found him stopped in the middle of a room. I assumed his battery had run out, but to make sure I pushed his on button and to my surprise I hear Stevie say, “Please clean my rollers.” I didn’t even know he talked let alone he might have a clue his rollers needed cleaning. So I flipped him over and found more hair than I care to admit! So if you find yourself stuck or something is in your way, open your mouth and ask for help. Others have most likely encountered the same issue or something similar. For me, simply asking for help forces me to re-look at the issue in a new light and out of nowhere pops up a great new idea.
  5. Don’t complain. The thing I like most about Stevie and have taken away is not complaining. Stevie just goes about his work. I have bribed, begged and threatened other family members to vacuum. My request inevitably would be met with constant whimpers and whines about the tortures of vacuuming our home. Stevie has taught me to keep my mouth quiet and just get to work. Complaining about a task doesn’t do anything to help in its accomplishment and surely doesn’t make it anymore enjoyable for me or those around me.

Stevie has at least 5 more tips but I’ll save those for another day!

Kingston Bar & Grill, Wednesday September 16th

Kingston Bar and Grill

Dive Bar Networking took a little time off, but we are back at it again. We’ll be meeting at the famous or infamous, Kingston Bar & Grill. Don’t worry it is definitely a dive bar which is fully packed during every home Timbers match. I started to set the event date for the week prior, but luckily thought to check the Timbers schedule.

I might suggest wearing a hard hat because during a visit last year a light fixture fell from the ceiling and narrowly missed me which of course was call for celebration. I had another beer! I am confident the odds are slim for anything  falling from the ceiling on the 16th, but should it happen at least you’ve been warned.

 hard hat

It has been a long time since we’ve gathered. I look forward to catching up with old friends and looking forward to seeing many new faces. If you are wondering why the Kingston, well it is close to my new office on NW 23rd Place and I started this so I get to pick.

Bring a friend or grab a stranger, either way come have a good time.

5 – 7 p.m.

 

http://www.kingstonsportsbar.com

2021 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97205

Cheers,

Chris

Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

Home Inspection

When you buy a Portland home, you need to know exactly what you’re buying. Imagine how frustrated you’d be to find out that the hot water heater wasn’t working—in the middle of a shower! This is why you should have a home inspection before you buy your home. A home inspection is an important part of buying your home. Before you hire a home inspector, ask candidates a few questions to make sure you hire a trustworthy inspector.

  1. What does your inspection cover? Not all inspections are the same. Ask for copies of previous home inspections so you can see exactly what they will check inside the home. If you are concerned about something specific, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom, mention that to the inspector so they can check it out.
  2. Are you licensed or certified? If you live in a state that licenses home inspectors, ask to see their license. At the very least, choose a home inspector who belongs to American Society of Home Inspectors. This shows a level of professionalism and education that you can trust.
  3. What kind of report will you give me? You should expect a written report detailing what the inspector found. Most inspectors will give you a typed report within a week of the inspection. Make sure the inspector will be available to explain anything on the report that doesn’t make sense to you.
  4. Will I be able to attend the inspection? If the inspector refuses to let you be present during the home inspection, find someone else. This is your chance to know exactly what you are buying and what potential repairs you or the seller will have to make.

A good real estate broker will walk you through the process. Below are some helpful links.

  1. Home inspection – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_inspection
  2. American Society of Home Inspectors. – http://www.ashi.org/
  3. Easy household repairs. – http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/repair/5-home-repairs-you-should-do-yourself.htm

12 Lessons from Candy Crush

candy-crushI personally have never played Candy Crush for the simple fact I’ve watched too many others become obsessed with the game. I sort of viewed it as a form of social media “meth” for adults. However, my wise friend and colleague Scott Koch was sucked into the seedy seductive world of Candy Crush and has come out the other side even wiser. Below you’ll find the 12 lessons he learned while wasting precious moments of his life.

That’s right folks, Candy Crush is not just a mindless way to spend a few minutes escaping reality.

As I have been “stuck” on level 147 for some time now, it occurred to me that I should not follow my first instinct which would be to erase the game and move onto the next puzzle game that looks interesting.
If you have a smart phone, tablet or any other electronic interactive gadget and you have been able to avoid the Candy Crush craze, then I applaud you, however for the rest of us that have got caught up in this cute yet challenging game, I offer you some comfort as you look back on all the hours that you have wasted and will never get back. These hours are not completely wasted as there are lessons to be learned… in Candy Crush.

  1.  The game starts easy and gets harder, kind of like life.
  2. There is always a next level to overcome, life constantly gives us challenges.
  3. Planning helps you win easier, but a little luck doesn’t hurt either. You cannot plan for everything in life, there are twist and turns along the way.
  4. Just when you think you know what you are doing a new element is added. Life never gets boring.
  5. When you fail a level, you learn what you did wrong and know how to do it right the next time. This only applies if you learn from your mistakes, if you don’t then you are “stuck” at that level.
  6. The first move you see is not always the best move, look at all your options first and then make an informed decision.
  7. Ignoring the bombs won’t make them go away, they just explode later ending that round and erasing all the work you have done to that point. I think you get the point on that one.
  8. Failing a level is not permanent neither is winning a level, there is always another round ahead. If you fail at something learn from it, if you succeed, take a moment to smile and then move on to the next challenge.
  9. There is great satisfaction on beating a tough level, none on beating an easy one. This applies to all the obstacles we face in life, are you up for the challenge or do you want to take the easy way?
  10. You can pay for cheats and if you do, you will not be prepared for the next levels coming and will be set up for failure. Taking short cuts in life do not pay off in the long run, if anything they will make your life harder.
  11. When you are stuck, you can always reach out for help from your friends. No explanation needed.
  12. There is nothing like the satisfaction you get when you finally beat that tough level. Life may not be easy, but it does have its rewards for persistence and hard work.

This is only a small sampling of lessons to be learned from a free game!!

So even when you think you are wasting time, you may be learning a lesson that can change your life or approach to life. You just have to look for it!

Scott Koch, Territory Manager/VP, Sterling Bank