By Brett Cafferty

Recently, in speaking with many small business owners, the most common topic is the slow return to a more normal, post-Covid business environment. The pandemic changes that took place – limiting in-person interaction, the isolation of working from home – went from being a temporary way of doing things to the new normal. People who had previously spent their days out servicing customers and being engaged face-to-face were now at an at-home office desk using Zoom to communicate.

As a former business-to-business sales guy, I began to realize that my past habit of being out of the office seeing people, and the temporary new normal of being stuck in the office by myself, slowly became a new habit of sorts. Emails, texts, and calls took the place of the majority of previous face-to-face interaction. 

For sales reps, small business owners, and entrepreneurs that sometimes struggle (like myself!) to “get it in gear,” I was recently reminded of a basic business rule learned years ago when I was enrolled in a national sales and business development program. The founder of this training was a psychologist, and the curriculum explored numerous topics and insights into the human condition. I found it fascinating and along the way picked up many helpful “rules” that were highly beneficial.

When stuck in a pattern of inaction or doubt, it’s easy to find tasks to fill your time. When we are faced with needing to act but are hesitant to do so, a great adage and basic rule to remember is: “It’s not how you feel that determines how you act, it’s how you act that determines how you feel.

Easy to say, harder to do. But in my own experience, I have seen this proven a hundred times. Making the first call, or first action, leads to the next. Having the first face-to-face interaction makes the second one easier. We feel better and more productive for making the effort, and positive outcomes often follow. The habit is developed and reinforced, making it easier to build on.

This can be applied to many life areas, not just to small business roles and sales – exercise, organization, contacting a distant friend or family member that would appreciate the effort – whatever tasks you may be most trying to put off or avoid. Our feelings can often lead us astray, but our concrete and tangible actions can help us develop new and beneficial patterns.