By Alex Cavelli
“First you make your habits, then your habits make you.”
We all have good intentions. Early in my career, I set a lofty goal. My intention was to prospect Monday through Friday and speak with 25 people each day about their lives and real estate.
For about six months, Monday and Tuesday were strong days for me. I was feeling productive. Best of all, I was setting appointments and winning listings at a rate I was happy with.
But by the time Wednesday or Thursday hit, I lost my motivation. I went from making 25 contacts on Monday and Tuesday, to 15 on Wednesday, to maybe 10 on Thursday. By Friday I was down to zero. Not only did fail to measure up, I also started questioning my commitment and abilities—not good for the psyche.
What happened? Regardless of my skill level, there had to be an explanation of why it was so challenging to finish a full week of lead generation. So, I spoke with willpower scientist Colin Robertson. Robertson runs a company called Willpowered and has devoted his life to scientifically determine what it takes to win our mental battles.
After explaining my situation to Robertson, our conversation went like this:
Robertson: Would you expect to run 25 miles your first time out?
Me: Of course not.
Me: That’s not realistic. I can’t finish that without training.
Robertson: So then what would you do?
Me: I would start at maybe three miles and build up from there.
Robertson: Why three?
Me: Because three miles is challenging, but I know I can finish.
Robertson: Alex, have you ever talked to 25 people for five straight days about real estate?
See? Makes sense. Robertson says that, as humans, we tend to be overly optimistic about our abilities when attempting to develop a new “keystone habit”. It’s sort of like the New Year’s resolution effect. We get super excited early on but soon our willpower fades and we are back to square one.
Starting at 125 contacts per week, at least for me, was like running a marathon on day one. I was setting myself up for failure. Instead, we had two choices: We can start with that New Year’s resolution type of goal that ultimately fizzles out, or we can approach the problem scientifically.
“Do Not Fail.” Robertson’s very simple and manageable “Do Not Fail” philosophy is the starting point to creating great habits. We tend to approach goals like I did – wanting big results right away. But when trying to create a habit, consistency is what we should be aiming for. Here’s how Robertson helped me determine the right goal for me:
Robertson: How many people can you talk to consistently each day that guarantees you will finish?
Me: I can probably make 15 contacts on a consistent basis.
Robertson: “Probably” won’t work. What is the number that guarantees that you will not fail?
Me: I see. That number is definitely ten.
Robertson: For the next four weeks, talk with ten people each day. No more, no less.
Here’s the science. In making ten contacts/day, there are no days where I don’t make any progress. Every day my client list is growing no matter what. And with every day that I make ten contacts, confidence grows that I’ll be able to make ten contacts the next day (and the next day) as well. When I’m ready, I can increase that number to 15 or 20 – just like a runner would gradually increase his or her mileage when training for a marathon.
The end, for now. Our career is not comprised of one sprint. It’s rather about running with a steady, consistent pace and then increasing that pace over time. If you want to run a marathon, then start with a 5k and pace yourself. In other words, to start the habit of lead generation, set aside one hour each day to make anywhere from 5-10 contacts with your sphere, past clients, FSBOs, or expireds. The point is to be consistent and start with a goal that guarantees you will finish.
Next week we’ll connect with Mr. Willpowered again to discuss the next step to scientifically develop the habit of prospecting: “The Seinfeld Method.”
In the meantime, if you’re curious about my progress and would like to discuss a lead generation plan that works for you, please contact me. I can be your first contact of many.
Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alexcavelli@kw.com.