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3 Steps to Get Ahead in Our Changing World

John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” There is no denying the change we are experiencing is unprecedented but change itself is always happening. Longing for the past, the way things were or holding on to the shifting sands of the present isn’t creating a strong foundation for tomorrow. By revising your habits, intensifying your discipline and improving your accountability you can set a base that will provide the solid ground on which to build your future.

Review and revise your habits.

Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit, writes “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits.” How so? Well, when is the last time you had to decide which direction to point your car to go to the grocery store? You didn’t choose to go to a particular store, you just went to the one you always shop at. No decision made.

Habits are most often formed through a trigger/reward system. Stepping up to the coffee maker triggers the habit of making a cup of coffee, with the reward of the warm cup in hand, the aroma and the flavor. You no longer think about the steps to make the coffee; it just happens. You can make coffee throughout the day with the same lack of thought through the same trigger/reward system. All of your habits are built the same way, trigger – action – reward.

To figure out if your habits are helping or hindering, take the time to be aware of what you do on a daily basis. Write down all of your actions and activities for a week. Then spend the time to break them apart to see the trigger, action, and reward. If the action and/or reward are no longer serving to move you forward, change them.

Today, you feel uncomfortable and out of rhythm. Even the adjustment of the time of day for your first cup of coffee has knocked everything off-kilter. Many of your habits are not serving you at this time and you are being forced to make decisions you didn’t have to before. (Should you get dressed, or stay in pajamas all day? These extra decisions, though seemingly small, are tapping the energy you have for daily discipline.

Intensify your discipline

We are learning very quickly the amount of discipline that is required to work at home. Some are successful with it, others not so much. It’s natural for your productivity to be out of whack right now. There are so many changes and distractions as well as new obstacles to overcome in order to accomplish our goals. Your habits are no longer serving you well and everything is requiring decisions.

Discipline and habit often go hand in hand. The power of habit being an automatic activity reduces the amount of brain energy required to perform a task. The more tasks you can execute by habit, the more you will get accomplished. The less you think about something, the easier it happens. If you have a daily habit of creating a list of tasks to be accomplished in priority order, there is no discipline required to stay on target. Complete the task, check the box, move to the next task. You don’t have to spend time and energy deciding what to do next.

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