Every morning when I walk into my office the first thing I do is open up my electronic health records, review patient notes, return patient phone calls, and email patient resources as needed. I decided a long time ago that quality of care needed to be the most important aspect of my business. In order to maintain that practice, I must value and nurture quality of care above all other aspects of my business including the financial management, marketing, networking, speaking engagements, publications, business growth, etc. At the time I made that decision, it required a conscious effort to make patient needs a priority even when many other tasks were demanding my urgent attention. Now, I don’t think about it…it’s a habit.
The effect of that habit has had a “butterfly effect”, which refers to small changes causing a ripple of larger and larger changes. By creating what appears to be a simple habit, my patients have a positive therapeutic experience with improved outcomes. This leads patients to be more likely to recommend my services to others (which as we know is the most effective form of marketing), creates business growth, increases demands for speaking and publication opportunities, and ultimately improves the profit of the business. All a result of a habit!
By gaining a better understanding of your bad habits, it can make it easier to implement a healthier more productive alternative. Start with recognizing the trigger to your bad habit and acknowledging how you are benefiting from repeating the behavior. In my example, the old habit was to handle pressing business tasks which ultimately limited my time to handle patient needs. The trigger was walking into work facing emails, voicemails, and a never ending “to do” list that did not necessarily have to do with direct patient treatment. By putting out all of the little fires going on around me, it gave me short term relief to know I was addressing tasks that required my attention. However, the long term consequence was patient treatment was not meeting my expectations of quality of care. When I choose to replace my old habit with a new more productive habit, my business tasks presented each morning are now my cue to stop and address patient needs first. Upon completion of the priority task, I then allow myself the mental space to handle the remaining demands rather than juggling it all at once and finding myself off course. The reward is short term and long term sense of accomplishment and productivity.
So does it really take 21 days to create a new habit? Research is conflicted on this magic number with Phillippa Lally and colleagues from University College London finding the reality to be closer to 66 days. At some point behavior can become automatic, but I suggest focusing less on the magic number and focusing more on gaining insight into your patterns of behavior, establishing a goal,and practice practice practice.
Whether it’s personal or professional habits you want to adjust, I invite you to join the Women’s Thriving by Habit Challenge starting July 30th. The challenge will be facilitated by the professionals at Pamper Your Mind, LLC. All you need to do is “Like” the Pamper Your Mind Facebook page and send us a message requesting to join the “Women’s Thriving by Habit Challenge” Private Facebook Group.
Invite your girlfriends, family, employees, and co-workers to join as well for additional fun and motivation. We will be reviewing the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, while providing a variety of additional resources, inspiration, sharing successes, overcoming road blocks, and having optional meet ups along the way. You can contact us at 321-209-4796 if you have any questions. I’m excited to witness the butterfly effect this challenge will have collectively on our community and businesses!
By: Kristin Woodling, LMHC