donots.jpgI’m not sure if this happens to you, but I often go through times where a clear theme emerges in my thinking. The theme of late is that of “Disciplines”.

Over a year ago, I found out that I had Type 2 diabetes. It was somewhat of a shocker to me since I thought I was in pretty good health, but it turns out that I’m genetically predisposed to the disease. My dad has it, my sister had it and now I’ve got it. 

As I began to study the disease, I found out that if I could lose ~ 5-10% of my body weight by eating correctly, I could reverse the condition and move myself out of the diabetic blood sugar range back to the normal range. So, I went to work, studying as much as I could about what to eat and what not to eat. I met with a nutritionist to review my plan. I set a goal to lose 10% of my body weight. I used the app MyFitnessPal to track EVERYTHING I ate. (BTW – feel free to friend me – my user name is johnhboudreau. I’d love to be able to encourage you)

I measured and weighed my food to make sure I was eating the right amounts. I weighed myself daily. Like magic, I began to see results. From Aug 8, 2014 – Dec 11, 2014 my weight dropped from 181lbs to 163.3 lbs a 9.7% drop.

My next step was to test my A1c to see if I was able to reverse the condition. My A1c came back a 5.7. I was out of the diabetic range!

I tell this story because I think there is a real application to business (and life in general). I think many of the problems we experience in business is due to short-term thinking. We don’t discipline ourselves to do the things that will help us in the long-term; especially if there is not an immediate reward. So let’s apply what I did to your business.

1. Acknowledge you have a problem

I could have easily ignored what my doctor was saying and kept on eating the way I wanted. Donuts taste really good going down, but eventually you have to pay the piper. Again it’s short-term over long-term. This goes back to teachability. What about your business is not what is should be? Are you realizing the your true potential? Are you not investing in the growth of the business so you can live a little better lifestyle now? 

2. Study what’s wrong, get help and create a plan

I love to study and learn so this was any easy one for me, but there is always someone who knows more than you and can help you. Do you understand the financials of your business at a deep level? What are your gross margins? Is there something wrong with your business model such that no matter what you do (growth in sales etc) you’re going to have issues. Do you have a financial model and budget? It could be that much of your pain is self-induced. Just the process of planning moves you from short-term thinking to long-term thinking.

3. Set a goal

Once you understand what needs to happen set a goal (at maximum set 3-5). What needs to happen for your plan to be successful over the next 12 months? My goal was to lose 10% of my body weight. What is it for you? Grow sales (by how much)? Increase profitability (by how much)? Improve your hiring process? As I write this post, we are already 11 days in January or 12% into Q1’16. If you don’t get clartity on your goals soon, the chances are you won’t hit them.

4. Track progress relentlessly

Each goal should have a time-frame and metric or KPI (key performance indicator) associated with them. My KPI was my weight. I purchased a Withings Scale that automatically synced up to MyFitnessPal and weighed I myself every day. This kept me accountable and let me know if what I was eating was having a positive of negative effect on my weight. 

This is a critical step that many businesses miss. Do you have specific meeting time scheduled each week or each month (each week is better) to review your goals and KPIs? If you meet monthly, 1/3 of the quarter will have flown by before you take a look at how you are tracking. Consider meeting more frequently. 

5. Celebrate success and set a new goal

When I hit my goal I was ecstatic! It gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and my feelings of helplessness faded away. I can do this! 

And you can do this…even if your not a metrically minded individual. There are skills (disciplines) you just have to develop if you want to be successful. It’s not easy opting for the long-term over the short-term, but you can do it.

I’d love to hear your comments below. How have you implemented disciplines in your company? Which disciplines do you struggle with the most?

If you’d like more help defining the top 3-5 goals for your business, sign up for a free DEMO of the Envisionable software. You can even get a coach to help you going forward.