Is your auto-pilot leading you straight to a dead end?
In a perfect world, life can flow a lot more smoothly when you have systems, processes, and productive habits in place. You don’t have to continually re-invent the wheel, and your effectiveness soars.
In a perfect world.
In the world most of us actually inhabit, however, systems and processes fall more in the realm of good ideas than actual practices, and the habits we rely on may or may not truly contribute to the goals we say we want to achieve.
Habits are kind of like the auto-pilot on an airplane: You turn the actual work over to something else, i.e., the habits. Once you start doing something in a habitual manner, you can largely turn your brain off and more or less go through the motions. (Anyone who has ever pulled into their garage with no clear recollection of how they drove there knows exactly what I mean.)
That’s why your habits can be one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the real success you crave: If you follow those habits simply because they’re the path of least resistance, chances are excellent that you’re ignoring opportunities for growth and failing to notice warning signs of potential danger.
Are you habits helping or hindering your success?
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine where your habitual actions are propelling you: to a well-defined, longed-for goal, or to a business dead end.
What actions do you perform almost by rote?
The first step in clarifying what habits serve you and which hold you back is to get clear on what those habits actually are. Habits can be tricky to identify, simply because you do them almost unthinkingly. Challenge yourself to figure out when you’ve gone on auto-pilot and when you’re fully intentional about your activities.
Have these habits developed by design or default?
Sometimes we keep doing things a certain way simply for the ease and convenience. That’s great if familiar is also efficient and effective, but it’s not so great if familiar is just another word for clunky. Ask yourself if there’s a better way of doing tasks – one that will save you time and effort.
Are you making appropriate use of technology?
This is a tricky one, in my opinion, because it’s so easy to fall in love with new technology for its own sake, rather than for what it does to increase your productivity. You get to be ruthless in considering whether you want that new app because it’s cool or because it will streamline your important activities.
Why are you doing what you do?
I’ve found this to be one of the most powerful questions any smart entrepreneur can ask herself or himself. If you don’t know, specifically and explicitly, what end result you expect to achieve from an activity, it doesn’t deserve your time or attention. “Because everyone says to” is NOT a good reason to adopt a particular practice. You are the one who knows her business best and who is responsible for making decisions that will grow it – regardless of whether or not “everyone” else is doing the same.
What are your experiences with building good habits and letting go of those that are a hindrance? What has helped you create an auto-pilot that makes it easier to get where you want to go?
Or are you so overwhelmed by your Too Much To Do List that that your main habit is staring at the list and struggling to figure out what to tackle next? If that’s the case, I know how to shift you from staring to soaring.
I’m compassionately ruthless in showing my clients how to throw out what’s distracting them from true revenue-growing activities, create action plans and processes to effectively implement those crucial activities, and remain accountable for results.
But are we likely to make a great team in getting you out of overwhelm and into overdrive? There’s no way to tell until we have a chance to get acquainted. So if you’re curious about whether we’d work well together, I invite you to set up a nobody’s-committed-to-nothin’ discovery call. I can’t guarantee that we’ll agree to work together, but I can guarantee that, at the end of that 30- to 40-minute call, we’ll know whether or not we want to. Just email me with “I’m curious” in the subject line, and we’ll arrange to explore some possibilities.
(By the way, thanks to Carl Malamud for posting his image of the auto-pilot instruments in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in effectiveness, productivity and tagged habits. Bookmark the permalink.