I recently learned that it takes 66 days to form a habit, and your thought process shapes your overall mood and productivity. Humans have a natural negativity bias: The bad parts of life weigh heavier on our minds than the good parts. You must experience five good things to overcome the effect one terrible thing has on your brain. I was stunned to learn these facts.
As a busy entrepreneur, there is so much constantly going on around you that you cannot control. When managing multiple clients, each will have a different perspective on you and your business. Each has a different satisfaction level with your customer service and overall work. You might meet with your clients and hear praise from almost all of them, but then one client says something negative. Despite hearing so much praise, your brain will mull over that one negative thing and ignore everything else.
The Importance of Thinking Positively
Cognitive psychological researchers identified a positive relationship between depression, anxiety, and behavioral or decisional procrastination. As symptoms of depression or anxiety increase, you will procrastinate more. Even just a temporary bad mood not linked to mental illness can decrease your productivity. As entrepreneurs, we must be conscientious of our productivity levels and what affects them, as this can be the difference between being successful or unsuccessful.
Your mood also influences your decision-making processes, motivation, and interests. Remaining in a poor mood for prolonged periods can decrease your overall mental health and hurt your business. No client wants to work with an entrepreneur who is irritable, negative, cranky, or shows little to no interest in his or her company.
The ’66 Days to Focus on the Positive Challenge’
While there are many positivity and gratitude challenges floating around social media, I decided to create my own. I call it the “66 Days to Focus on the Positive Challenge” or the “66 Day Challenge” for short. Each day, you jot down five positive things that happened. They do not have to be incredible things, nor do they have to be business-related. The goal is to focus on the little positive things that we sometimes take for granted.
I already started this challenge, and at the time I’m drafting this article, I am on day three. Here’s a sample of what my five positive things were for day two:
- I got a haircut.
- I closed a deal with a client.
- Significantly reduced neck pain.
- Saw a really good movie with my loved ones.
- Had a good call with my online-business manager to define our business values and mission statement.
While these may seem mundane to most, these are wins for me. First, I boosted my self-confidence by upgrading my hair and having a wonderful conversation with my stylist. Second, that client I signed was a client I had been trying to sign for a while. Third, I live with chronic neck pain, so having a low pain day is rare. Fourth, that movie was a great source of entertainment, and I greatly value time spent with my loved ones. Finally, that call with another team member reminded me how proud I am of my business and team.
After only my second day, this challenge helped me realize that even the most minor things can significantly impact your day and overall mood. Before this challenge, I never thought something as simple as getting a haircut would make me this happy or relaxed. I would have blown it off and focused on the one bad thing that happened that day because remaining positive requires my full focus and attention, which can be difficult in the face of negativity.
The 66 Day Challenge is a special challenge for me because it helps me figure out what matters most and see the brighter side of every occasion. Throughout this challenge, I will be making daily lists, and it will help me create a more positive focus. It is not necessarily about creating a positive mindset although that has been a natural result, but rather about changing my focus. It reminds me of this saying I used to hear growing up, “If you go into a room only focused on everything yellow, when somebody asks you to name everything red, you won’t be able to.”
The same goes for life: If you only focus on negative things in life, you will miss the positive. A predisposition for negativity will increase the amount of negativity you see in life. You can overturn that negativity bias by making it a habit to look for the positive things in life. That’s what the 66 Day Challenge is all about.
Take the Challenge
You can join me on this challenge by taking your notebooks, bullet journals, computer notepads, word processors, tablets, or anything else you are comfortable with and documenting the five best parts of your day. The most important thing is to set aside a few minutes throughout the day to reflect on the happiest things that happen in your life, even if they are minor details or seemingly mundane. Let’s create this new habit together and retrain our brain to eliminate its negativity and have a positive bias instead.