Did you grow up Catholic? In case you did not, allow me to give you a quick explanation of the Christian Lenten practice. (This is not the religious definition, so forgive me, Father Murphy.) Lent is a 40-day period that begins Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. This year, it started on March 6th. Lent is intended as a time of reflection and preparation for Easter; however, it’s most well-known as a time where you give something up or make a sacrifice in your own life in some way. Whether you choose chocolate, soda, swearing, reality TV, or something else, you commit to intentionally avoiding it for 40 days.
No matter what vice you choose, going without is torture for the first couple of weeks. By the third week, though, things get a little easier. You get used to this new normal, and new habits begin to develop.
Personally, I’ve found this disruption to my daily life and habits causes a new awareness to arise. Once I give something up, I start to wonder how long I could go without it. For example, how long could I go without eating ice cream? (Just for the record, giving up ice cream is a HORRIBLE idea. Choose something else.)
So how does Lent apply to business? What would happen if you quit doing one thing in your business for 3-4 weeks… and then analyzed how your choice impacted your business?
Maybe “Business Lent” means you push pause on attending that networking group that you’ve been in for three years. Or maybe you give up checking your business social media accounts after 5 pm. No matter what habit or activity you choose, quit doing something for the next three to four weeks, and just allow yourself to observe how that change impacts your business and your life. Remember, the only way to achieve change is to stop doing what you are currently doing, and start doing something different.
This Lenten exercise for your business will bring clarity on exactly how the activity you give up impacts your business. It also creates time to try a new activity or ritual that didn’t fit in your schedule before. But in order to make your Business Lent effective, you, of course, need some measurables.
Before choosing an activity to give up, first identify how you are currently measuring that activity’s results. Whether you’re tracking how many referrals you get from a networking group, how much time you spend on social media, or how many emails you reply to after business hours, what are your analytics telling you about what you’ve been doing? If you give up this activity, what will you use that time for instead? How will you measure the impact of this change so you can determine whether you should continue with it beyond your Business Lent?
Here is a Business Lent example:
- What habit or activity will you give up? Checking my email before 10 am.
- How are you currently measuring this? I respond to about 50 emails per day currently.
- Benefit, goal, or expectation in stopping the behavior: I will be able to tackle one big project on my to-do list before 10 am.
- Actual outcome (once you’ve tried it): I didn’t accomplish a big project every day, but I finished several outstanding projects and moved several projects forward by not checking my emails before 10 am.
- Business decision: I commit to not opening my email prior to 10 am.
There is never a bad time to decide what activities you will start, stop, or pause, but spring is a great season for change, so why not start now? As Warren Bennis said, “In life change is inevitable; in business change is vital.” What changes will Business Lent lend to your life and business?