Developing Habits that lead to Success
by Malissa Conti-Diener
What’s your purpose when you open your eyes in the morning? Do you have a routine you follow or is your day chaotic from beginning to end? Life gets chaotic on its own, so to avoid drowning in uncertainty, give yourself permission to dream of, plan and build a life where success is something obtainable.

Being a successful pet groomer can mean many things to different people. Mostly it means accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. But before we can scratch that goal off our list, we first have to adjust the habits and behaviors that shape our ability to stay motived and achieve those goals.

They say that the most successful people have mastered the art of implementing and utilizing good habits. But what are “good habits” and how do we even begin to decode our habits, good and bad?

When we can commit to a set of habits, good or bad, it frees up our brain to make other decisions. This form of self-automation is considered a habit. Merriam-Webster defines the word “habit” as: a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

“Nearly or completely involuntary” is the money statement here. You know all those little things (behaviors) you do without ever thinking about? Those are your habits. At one time you consciously decided to do them, and then repeated them over and over again until they became automatically what you did in certain situations.

We all have habits that do not serve our greater good. We developed them over time and began to rely on them, even if they did not produce the results we wanted. The million-dollar question is, how do we break those involuntary behaviors and change? First, we must re-examine ourselves for self-improvement, and then take stock of exactly what habits we want to change.

We often set out with the best intentions and then fall prey to our comfort-zone habits. We are truly creatures of habit, and we will always follow the path of least resistance, even when we are the ones resisting. Change is tough, but with simple, daily, small changes you can overcome your worst habits.

More important than the specific habits themselves is that successful groomers harness the power of habit to control elements of their lives, thus enabling them to achieve their desires. But how do we control our lives to affect our behaviors?

1. Free up your decision-making.

We make thousands of decisions daily about what to wear, what to eat, when to go to bed, when to wake up, etc. To help enable success, focus on developing habits that eliminate the small decisions that you make every day to simplify your routine. Here are a few examples:

  • I will wake up at 5 a.m. every day by setting my alarm (and not hitting the snooze).
  • I will set a bedtime so I get enough rest. (Sleep deprivation leads to poor decision-making.)
  • I will simplify my work clothes and set them out each night before bed.
  • I will plan and prep my meals and not fall into old junk-food habits. (Poor nutrition and hunger lead to poor judgement and decision-making.)
  • I will organize my day according to my appointments before answering calls and seeing clients.
2. Prioritize your daily activities

We often suffer from decision-making fatigue. Yes, it is a real thing. We only need to look back at our busy days to see how our decision-making degrades as we get tired and overwhelmed during a normal day grooming. Have you ever said, “Why did I ever agree to that?” or “I let them talk me into…?” Most of the time it’s because you are operating in decision fatigue mode. By following #1, you are now allowing time to set your daily schedule to suit your greatest success. A freshly rested brain will function optimally, so taking on the big tasks at the beginning of your day allows you to do less as your day winds down. Here are a few examples:

  • I will prioritize my work tasks according to most important to least important. (Keeping a to-do list increases your chances of success by remembering what you need to do when.)
  • I will leave a time cushion between clients to stretch, breathe and reset before my next groom.
  • I will hold my customers to their appointment time and not allow early customers or late customers to disrupt my personal daily timeline.
3. Employ habit stacking.

There is no shame in dreaming big. But when we fail to obtain the big dream, it’s usually because we didn’t set up the ladder of smaller tasks to obtain the dream. When we focus on creating the smaller habits that lead to more small habits, we not only keep ourselves motivated, but we see an immediate reward in the completion of simpler, smaller tasks, eventually reaching our goal. Here are a few examples:

Dream: I want to increase my client list.
Habit Stacking: I will commit to creating a 30-day marketing campaign for my business.
Dream: I want to be a more educated groomer.
Habit Stacking: I will commit to attending one continuing education class a month.
Dream: I want to write a blog.
Habit Stacking: I will commit to writing one sentence a day in a journal for 30 days.
4. Serve others.

I am a firm believer that part of finding your purpose is in what you discover when you dedicate a part of yourself to service. But how do we make a habit out of service? As pet groomers, we are in the “service industry;” it literally is in the name of the industry we chose to make a career in. We serve hundreds of people through our business, including their four-legged family members. Are you seeing your job as a way to serve your community? Here are a few examples of how to make a habit of serving others:

  • Adopt a policy to educate your customers on better pet care. For example, you could write social media posts to educate your followers or host events for your pet-owning community.
  • Treat your job as a way to serve others. You can be humble and grateful and still enforce boundaries and limitations; service does not imply allowing others to treat you poorly.
  • Create relationships with others who dedicate their time to service. Likeminded people will continue to motivate and support you because you are working within a common goal.

By shifting the focus from the hard challenges of breaking down old habits to the more positive and action-centered building of new habits, you are actually giving your brain a confidence boost. It’s all about perspective. If you truly want something bad enough, you will be willing to work hard to build it. When you build a habit process (habit stacking) your brain builds a strong network of neurons to support your current behaviors. The more you do something, the stronger and more efficient the connection becomes.

When building new habits, it’s OK to use the old habits to build upon. That connectedness is called implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit. This method, which was created by BJ Fogg as part of his “Tiny Habits” program, can be used to design an obvious cue for nearly any habit.

Once you have mastered this basic structure, you can begin to create larger stacks by chaining small habits together. This allows you to take advantage of the natural momentum that comes from one behavior leading into the next.

Here are a few examples of how to habit stack:

  • After I arrive at work, I will take one minute to meditate and center myself before beginning my day.
  • Before I greet my first customer, I will have my work station prepped for their pet.
  • Before I leave work, I will say one thing I am grateful for today.
The habit stacking formula is:
After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
You and you alone are responsible for your choices and behaviors. When you fall off your newly set habits and fall back into your old habits, the best thing to do is just start over again. We aren’t aiming for perfection; we are setting our brains up for repetition which eventually becomes an involuntary habit. I hope this article helps you find and create your own processes to change habits that do not serve you to positive habits that lead you to your purpose and success.