A person writing in a notebook


Written by Sarah Rickerd


This article is the first in our four-part “Productivity Bootcamp” series. For even more efficiency tips, check out Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


In our last blog post of 2013, we asked you to think about what 2014 could mean for your funeral home. Will this be the year you take aim at falling revenues? The year you start digging deep to uncover what your customers are really looking for? Maybe it’s the year you finally start putting limits on your schedule in order to achieve some semblance of a work-life balance?


Unfortunately, hoping that these things will come true isn’t enough. No matter what your vision is for 2014, you won’t reach it if you don’t have a concrete roadmap in place.


To help you bring your ideas to life, we’ve put together a four-part series we’re calling the “Productivity Bootcamp.” We’ll be rolling these articles on the blog over the next two weeks, and we hope you’ll stay tuned and use the information we provide to turn 2014 into your best year yet.


And when it comes to productivity, the first thing we need to talk about is the idea of “goals.” Do a quick Google search and you’ll find a ton of different resources out there on the subject of goal setting. You’ll find links to the “SMART” goal model (which challenges you to set goals that are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related), as well as the “DUMB” goal-setting strategy (which encourages you to focus on visions that are dreamy, unrealistic, motivating and bold).


But here’s the thing… I say, throw out the acronyms! The real key to making progress in your personal and professional life isn’t setting goals — it’s changing your daily habits.


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Why Goal Setting Doesn’t Work

Let’s look at an example of a popular New Year’s Resolution — losing weight — to see why this makes sense. Say you challenge yourself to lose 50 pounds by the end of 2014. Following the SMART strategy, you break your overall goal down into easily-manageable weekly weight loss targets, resulting in smaller goals that meet all of the criteria described above. You know what you have to do and why you want to do it, but where most people will fail is in actually doing what needs to be done!


Despite your clearly-outlined goals, you get busy. You miss the gym one morning — and that one day turns into a week. Even though you’ve packed a healthy lunch, your coworkers invite you out to try a new restaurant. Over time, these indiscretions add up, causing you to abandon the goals you set for yourself and face yet another December 31st having made little progress towards your weight loss goals.


Instead, let’s say that you committed yourself to changing one small health-related habit a month. Maybe you committed to walking for just five minutes a day one month, or to cutting out one can of soda a week during another. By making your habit changes so small and so easy to complete, you have no excuse not to follow through on them. And by focusing on just one habit at a time, you avoid feeling overwhelmed at the magnitude of the change you’re trying to create and instead — well — just do it!


There’s one more great reason to focus on changing your habits instead of setting major goals. As you adopt these tiny habits successfully, you build confidence. Going forward, it becomes easier to tackle larger habits and to continually add new habits to your arsenal because you’ve already proven to yourself that you can do it. And believe me — that’s a pretty powerful recipe for change!


Habit Building for Funeral Professionals

Now, let’s apply this to your funeral home. Instead of setting massive, sweeping goals, how would you feel at the end of 2014 if you adopted any of the following habits throughout the year?

    • Spending 10 minutes a week improving your marketing materials (whether by creating new resources or adjusting the language used in existing pieces).
    • Taking five minutes a day to update your funeral home’s social media profiles.
    • Finding and getting in touch with one hospice, church or organization a month that you don’t currently get business from.
    • Investing in one piece of clothing a month to build out your wardrobe and create the right impression for your families.
    • Spending a half hour each week networking with celebrants, community leaders, and other funeral directors to build connections and develop the insight needed to grow your business.

Adopting any of these habits — or any other similar objectives — could result in a major impact on your business in exchange for a minimal amount of effort required on a day-to-day basis. Give it a try! Pick just one habit you know you’ll be able to stick with and then allow your efforts to grow as you build confidence and experience success.


For even more information on the power of habit-building, check out the following resources:

Do you have any other tips to share on building effective habits?