7 January 2014 | Alison Smith
Happy new year. Will this be a year of change for you, or the same old, same old? What transpires may not be obvious unless you understand the routines that stand between you and your goals and success.
New years (as well as new jobs, new homes, or new anything) are a great time to reassess the routines we use every day, and to determine if they're helping us move in the right direction or holding us back.
Routines are simply a set of learned behaviours that over time become unconscious. We stop assessing whether these routines support our success or not, and simply hand over to our autopilot to process the routine successfully.
● We make the first coffee of the day without thought of whether we want a coffee today, or if it really does make us feel better, just because we do it every morning.
● We take a specific route to work because at some point we learned it was quicker. And now we go into automatic pilot and without any thought of the route we've taken or considering the quicker, cheaper or less stressful alternatives.
● We walk to the canteen at lunch, grab a sandwich and then return to our desk to eat it as we continue working, without thinking whether an alternative lunch break might be better for us and the work we're doing.
A routine emerges after we've followed the same set of procedures for a period of time (anywhere from three to 28 days according to the many books that address facilitating personal change). But there are numerous challenges when trying to set establish new routines, without falling back into the same old ways.
● How new is the situation? If it feels too much like the old situation you'll find it very easy to run the old routine within it.
● How hard is the new routine? If it's too difficult, again, it will be easy to fall back into old, known and easy to follow routines.
● How many others around you follow the old or new pattern? Going with, and not against, the routines of others around you will always be easier.
Your motivation to make the change is often the only thing that will make the difference to the outcome. It's the motivation to change that will allow you to stay conscious long enough for the new behaviour to become routines that you can do on automatic pilot, and not fall back on the old unresourceful methods. In other words, the bigger the motivation, the better.
What changes do you want to make for 2014? More importantly what patterns do you need to stop running? And what action do you need to take to ensure the new routines stand a chance of becoming available to your automatic pilot?
☛ Alison Smith is a consultant, facilitator and coach