Habits: When Roadbumps Occur

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This is the beauty of having a blog: I can put myself out there and committ to something, and then two days later I can roll my ankle and have to start again. And so it is.

Let’s compare this situation to Reliability work, and look at some strategies for not getting frustrated when your best intentions are thwarted. A similar situation could be when you have a schedule you’ve set for yourself to get your work accomplished, but you are relying on another’s input.  And those people are unavailable.

When you can’t move the train forward on the tracks you’re on, there are still things you can do to make the time productive and worthwhile. Three things I learned during this speed bump:

1. Train your weakness.  In my particular case this means focusing on strength training and nutrition.  For a reliability worker, it could be studying the first principles of the machine, going out to see the problem and learn something new you didn’t have time to learn before, or working on that difficult project you’ve had on the back burner because you don’t really want to start it.

2 . Recovery and preparation: switching out my shoes, doing some foam rolling to work out lingering tightness, planning future routes and workouts. For the other: gathering all the data you need and setting up the analyses, talking to other experts to understand what they do (context), planning your next project beyond.

3. Reflection:  If you’ve been committed to a habit, and it has to pause…this is a good time for reflection.  Is there anything missing in your overall approach? Is this habit still serving you?  This is the time for introspection and questioning.  For me, I can start again, and my committment is more sure because I’ve taken that time to question and decided it is for me still.

All these things can help when you are ready to go again.  Often its better to change direction instead of stopping all together.

What are your thoughts on restarting when you get hung up?

Consistency and Habits: A Positive Feedback Loop to Greatness

(Happy Canada Day, folks!)

I’ve learned about myself and my habits over the last few months.  After Around the Bay, I pretty much stopped running for a month and a half.  Not because I don’t like running, but because the race felt like the finish line, an end.  That was not part of the plan when I set out to make running a part of my life.

Turns out results – sustainable results – don’t happen in one big shot for me.  Habits drive consistency everyday, and that’s where the magic happens.  Gretchen Rubin clarifies why habits are especially powerful: when something is truly a habit, we don’t have to use willpower to convince ourselves to do it.  Getting over the hump where we have to force ourselves to do something to where it is a part of our daily routine happens when we commit to consistency (a positive feedback loop between consistency and habits).

Consistency should be one of the Virtues of Reliability. Because “big R” Reliability is not about the Hail Mary pass. Every day, the same focus and effort. Every day, the attention to detail. This is where heros are made. The daily grind, the habits, the commitment to excellence (not perfection). Reliability is not about the finish line.  I don’t think we’ll ever be “done.” Positive steps in the right direction day in and day out it what will make change for our business (and our careers).

Is habit strength something I struggle with?  Of course! Currently, I’m committing to a 100-day running streak (running every day), and I’m on Day 32. This is my attempt to make running a part of my routine. Some days I just go a mile, but it’s the habit I’m after now, (I assume greatness will follow!).

Here are some of my favourite habit strength resources. They all use the intentional development of habits to build something great.
zenhabits.com
gretchenrubin.com
lauravanderkam.com

Are you working on developing any habits? Any tips for effective routines?

Focus: How to Improve at More Than One Thing

Was I fast? No. But I did it.
Was I fast? No. But I did it.

You may have noticed I’ve been absent for a little while. I set a goal to post every week until the new year.

Clearly I’ve missed the mark.

When things go haywire our worldview can shrink. A boss once told me “leadership is pushing many things forward a little at a time.” I currently feel like there is a mountain of good things in front of me, but I can only scoop a handful at a time.

And I can’t do a quality job at everything, so the blog has sat on the back burner.

In that time I’ve run my first half marathon, gotten most of the way through a course on steel metallurgy, and had a first hand look at functioning reliability systems in other departments in our company.  If I had spread myself too thin, I may have done none of these things well, or at all.  I had to focus on completing the goals I set, and there was no room for other creativity.

This post is to encourage others with a similar influx of data, ideas, priorities, to focus on only the one in front of you.  Focus.  Then you will go after it and succeed, without getting distracted by all the other important things calling your name.

That’s what happened to me this fall.  I miss this blog – finding a way to crystallize and communicate the ideas and learning I’m doing is a highlight. Part of my process.

If you are like me and have had an explosion of things happening this autumn, can you share what you’ve gained by it? How do you make the lemonade?