Have you seen days when you dream/plan to change but when time comes to act differently – old habits rule! You feel it is so hard to change. You look for a distraction & excuse – to not change. After all, old habits die hard. I am also going through a phase where I am/have to bring about lot of changes.
Few days back, I read an article on linked in which briefed how habits function – cue -> routine -> reward ->craving and referred the book – The power of habit. I am missing the link to the article since I can’t find it. It touched how it (habit) bypasses reasoning for efficiency. but works against us when we try to change the habits. The book is excellent read – I have read only partially yet.
The key to change is some of these parameters (cue, routine, reward) that drive the habit. What I found most interesting in my case is to present myself the reward of habit – smile – without doing it. What the habits usually bring after doing it – is smile. I kind of break the rule and smile nevertheless. For example – when I finish a delicious meal – it brings smile! When I smile even without having the delicious meal, it helps & eases to control/counter the urge (craving) to eat unhealthy.
Smile is mine. Why to make something else a premise for that?
After knowing the power of habit, I tend to smile and do things differently or by intent – rather than following the habit pattern and seek pleasure in the habit. Habit helps but habit pattern can act counter to me when I want to act differently. The beginning of breaking the habits and living by intention – is to bring on that little smile!
The 5 minute syndrome – I see this almost everyday and to some extent, I am not exempted from it. I too have it to some degree.
Have you seen such incidences?
- You are waiting on a shop. Shop owner: It will take 5 minutes. Again, you check after 20-30 minutes and again says just take 5 more minutes.
- Spouse asks when you are reaching home; Reply: just 5 minutes, I will start back home. It is not before 1/2 half hour and another reminder that he starts home.
- You call a cab; Cab driver is late. You check with the cab driver – he says – just 5 minutes sir. Reaches after 20 minutes.
- You are waiting for a friend (who is late) on dinner table. You call him. reply – just 5 minutes. Reaches after main course started.
This is 5 minutes syndrome. 5 minutes essentially means – I don’t know how much will it take? be patient! There is related 2 minute, 1 minute syndromes also but that for another time; It means I know it will take short time but don’t know exactly how much. Anyway but isn’t it harmless? For the incidences of kind above, it is harmless except that the person on the other end may lose his mind for minutes to hour. I had faced this recently at hospital where the lady at billing section kept promising 5 minutes – eventually taking 1.5 hours!
The subtle issue behind this is assumption – It’s ok to take more time as long as I am still invested in task and finish the task late. This can cause lot of harm & grief. Not everything can be delayed. For example – your project deliverables may not wait and may cause cascaded delay in overall project timeline. As a manager, I remember I have to keep two timelines internal (to team) and external (for partners) to manage team commitments. As a self employed person, I see myself falling in trap of “taking more time” and thinking I can still manage it.
While deadlines should not mean – I am dead if I don’t meet the timeline. but at the same time, It’s not ok – to not meet timelines – without serious reasons. It forces us to define the scope (instead of trying to solve problems like world hunger or make whole world a better place!) and finish the task or know/communicate affront what is not achievable in the given timeframe.
A timeline and scope are essential part of the goal and having a 5 minute syndrome may act counterproductive for me.
I care immensely about productivity. I think about it everyday. What changes can I bring out today – to be more productive from tomorrow?
The subtler the change, the higher the productivity gain.
Attitude is the most subtle part of me. It is the goggles that I put on – before I start look at things (feel & think about them). It is active every millisecond and impacts smallest possible unit of my time. If I have fear activated, I look at things as problems and filled with numerous questions. Many of them are irrelevant – what ifs questions – that I referred in a previous post. It cloud the vision & never let me get to knowledge – the question-less clear view of the solution. It paralyze me in analysis that deactivates right action. And on top of all, it is active at the smallest possible unit of my time!
Fearlessness is relative. but you can sort of make out it is inverse-exponentially related to your productivity. Fear is most of the time – a lie. Antidote to fear is smile. If I carry that little smile, it helps get over it and eventually respectfully disconnect of it! That is all it takes and welcome to the world of clarity and power to act!
When things don’t move, the normal behavior or reaction is to get agitated / frustrated / blame self or others etc. It seems like the normal / right behavior. It has been re-enforced in me for years. but does that help me? Well – it does not matter. That’s my way of dealing with things when they don’t move.
A quick reality check clarifies that getting frustrated – doesn’t take me anywhere. It only acts as energy sink and lead towards thoughtless actions. Yes – it is better than no action but better choice will be thoughtful action. Isn’t it? How do I get there?
When things don’t move – time gets hard – relax harder. Relax. That only unleashes my natural trait of – seeing through the solution and empowers me to act – take thoughtful actions. Relax harder – does not mean – inaction. It simply means – smile; world has not fallen apart. It enables to take stock of the current situation, see the solution and empower for next set of thoughtful actions.
Next time – things don’t move – I shall relax harder!
All of us have bad days. I too have bad days. I try to look back to see if I can learn from it. Many times – it gets down to the identity dilemma.
- I do meaningful things. Hence, I am (worthy). Vs
- I am (worthy). Hence, I do things.
Everyday I am faced with new challenges or force myself into new ones – to keep learning and moving. Until it is “done” – that new task/problem/challenge – what you call it – I often go through pain. Pain is primarily because I fetch my identity from “doing meaningful things”. If it does not get done, it gets even more painful at times.
If I take it the other way around – I am (worthy). Hence, I do things. It seem to feel better – while doing and even when it does not get done. It helps to correct these subtle believes.
|Wrong believe||Right believe
|I do things. Hence, I am (worthy).||I am (worthy). Hence, I do things.
|Things fetch happiness. Hence, I experience happiness.||I am (blissful). Hence, things fetch happiness.
|I know things. Hence, I am (worthy).||I am (worthy). Hence, I know things.
It is like – “I am. Hence, things around me.” – not the other way round – “things are. Hence, I am”.
This change empowers – to work on goals while rest in self.