While driving down the freeway gazing at the car in front, I noticed its bumper sticker: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” It’s true, if we continue to think and behave in the same way, we will continue to get the same results.

Scientific research shows that when you carry out certain actions repetitively, neural pathways are created in the brain, making the habit automatic. We create these habits over time and one day come to a conclusion that maybe the habit is not going to get us our desired outcome.

Habits can be triggers that foster undesired behavior. A gentleman was trying to quit smoking. Whenever he got in his car, he had a habit: turned on the radio, put his seatbelt on, and then checked his pockets for his cigarettes. When he tried to quit smoking, he realized he still had the habit of reaching in his pocket for his cigarettes that got him thinking about lighting up. His pattern of involuntary behavior triggered his urge to smoke. He had to create a new habit so that his self-limiting habit would not trigger the undesired behavior. Now instead of reaching in his pocket, he reaches for the carrot sticks.

As you create new habits, or get rid of negative ones, consider these steps:

Change One Habit at a Time
Scattering your energy by trying to create or break multiple habits can be unrealistic. You may be tempted to handle several habits at one time, but you’ll become overwhelmed and frustrated leading to lackluster results.

Instead focus your attention on one new habit until you do it regularly without thinking. When new entrepreneurs start ramping up their business the ones that are the most successful take one new element, implement it, and create a new habit. Once they’ve mastered that new habit, they move on to the next one. Before they know it, they’ve started creating massive momentum for their business and are in an entirely new place in a very short period of time.

Keep It Super Simple
You’ve been there on January 1 when you start that exercise routine, work out for an hour, then are so sore the next day you quit exercising. If exercising for an hour each day is too much, start out by exercising 20 minutes a day. Simply increase the amount each week.

If something is too difficult or too time consuming, you won’t develop a new habit. Start off by taking small steps keeping it super simple. Small steps now will generate giant leaps later.

Schedule It
At the end of the day, if you’re asking where the day went (and wondering why you didn’t get done what you had planned,) this may be a clue to changing where you focus your time and energy. If you start the day surfing the internet and find yourself behind in marketing your business, set an alarm to hold yourself accountable. When the time is up, it’s time to stop surfing and start focusing on the business of the day.

Give it 21 Days to Success
It takes a minimum 21 days to create a new habit. Rather than convincing yourself you’re going to do something for the rest of your life, get through the first 21 days.

After that, set a new goal. Each time you reach the goal, celebrate your successes.

Set Yourself Up for Success
If you’re trying to increase your pipelines of new clients, carefully identify how you’re managing your work day. For consultants or coaches, if you have the habit of answering the phone every time someone calls, think about carving out specific periods of time in answering phone messages rather than interrupting the flow of your day on every single call that comes in. That way, you’ll use the other times to market your business. You’ll find yourself with increased productivity and customers will notice your focused time with them.

Remember to check what you’re telling yourself each day, too. If you’re saying, “I have no money.” No money is what you’ll get. Change the negative self talk into something you do want, “I have income coming from expected and unexpected sources.” While you may not believe it at first, over time of regularly saying it, you’ll see the changes start to happen.

Join a Group
As you create a positive habit or work on breaking a bad one, join a group or connect with a buddy to keep you going. The benefit of linking with a buddy? It creates accountability. When you know you have to get something done before you meet with the individual (or a Mastermind Group), it creates built-in focus to get it done.

Visualize It
As you’re creating this new habit, find pictures or images that represent your “after” picture and post the pictures on a vision board. Keep your board in front of you so you see it every day.

One client created his business model and worked on pieces of it each day. In the morning, he saw the posting of his business model. He took five minutes each morning and evening to visualize himself after he built that new business model. Before he knew it, things were aligning that made that business model a reality.

Create a clear mental picture of what you want in your life. It is a very powerful aid and keeps you focused on the end game.

Celebrate Successes
Along the way identify timeframes and metrics. When you achieve those milestones, reward yourself in a way that is consistent with your end game. For example, if you’re growing your business don’t reward yourself with a pint of ice cream, instead, invest in yourself. Consider investing in your own self development so you continuously grow yourself. The more you challenge yourself, the more you will see your business grow.

It takes small changes to begin to create the momentum for your business. Take a moment today to look at the routines or habits you’ve created. Ask yourself: what needs to change? One habit-changing step today can yield life-changing outcomes.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Mininni is President of ExcellerateAssociates.com, home of The Entrepreneurial Edge SystemTM the only national curriculum for entrepreneurs taking a systems approach to profitability.

For more information on changing your business results, visit http://www.freebusinessplanformat.com for a host of free tools and business resources.