“Whenever the goal is to improve the quality of life, the flow theory can point the way… By stretching skills, by reaching toward higher challenges, such a person becomes an increasingly extraordinary individual.”
~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Coping with Uninvited Change
When Anna’s boss told her that she wouldn’t be getting JobKeeper because in the face of circumstances he was closing the business she was devastated. How would she support herself now?
Like many business owners, Mark had done the math and decided that it simply wasn’t worth the risk of relying on government to sustain the business. He gave her some sound advice along with the bad news:
“Anna, you’re a fantastic worker and you have more potential than you’ve ever let yourself realise. I’m stepping back to re-evaluate my life and work and determine what I could learn to make my next venture shock proof. I think you should do the same. Take the time that your redundancy pay gives you to think and study before you search for the next opportunity.”
She carefully calculated what she needed to live on, cut back some expenses to stretch out her window, and invested her time in her own learning. We did one session together to explore her talents, interests, and potential and then she immersed herself in learning and developing the skills we had identified.
Each week she set aside some money to invest in her development and certification, but she waited to spend it until she had clear direction based on her research.
Within six weeks she landed a role that is providing her with experience in her chosen field as well as growth opportunities. Her new employer said that he selected her because she had demonstrated her willingness to invest her own resources in developing in that area and that success leaves clues… In her case a willingness to challenge herself rather than wait for opportunity to arrive on a platter.
#1 The Habit of Investing in Yourself
“Success leaves clues.”
One of those clues is your personal investment in your own professional or skill development. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in an industry, or whether you are a business owner or an employee, it’s easy to get absorbed in your daily work and forget to look outside your own business, industry, and current competency.
Developing the habit of setting aside time and money to invest in enhancing existing skills or developing new ones will ensure that you never become the ‘dinosaur in the office’ – the person who isn’t even aware of new trends, possibilities or technologies. You may not adopt them all, but you will have good reasons for your decisions and be able to explain the benefits of your choice.
When you have the mindset of growth and development, you will be prepared to meet new challenges and find new ways to add value.
#2 The Habit of Stretching Higher
Ordinary people coast along and rely on past achievements.
Extraordinary people reach for the stars.
Not only does an unending openness to ‘the next thing’ serve you well by keeping your idea bank fresh and full during stable times, it also prepares you to meet change and to act constructively in the face of challenge.
There are always more things to learn and do, new ways of meeting old challenges, and different avenues to explore. Developing the habit of growth will deliver you from mental and emotional boredom and sclerosis and help you maintain a youthful energy and enthusiasm.
#3 Disciplines to Develop the Habits You Need to Thrive
In his famous book on Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about increasing the value of the time you invest in learning or acting by removing distractions and other sources of friction. He also reminds us that flow is a habit that we need to cultivate, one that improves with training.
Here are four essential disciplines that will enable you to define and develop new habits and make them last – even when your world is falling apart:
- Definition: you know what it’s like to start a new habit – you set out bubbling with enthusiasm and certain that this is going to transform your life then reality sets in and you wonder if it will make a difference after all. If you define the habit and your expected outcome in advance, and refer to this definition regularly it will bolster your motivation and action.
- Commitment: set yourself a minimum timeframe to practice the new habit (66 days is apparently ideal) and don’t let anything come between you and your habit during that time. At the end of the 66 days you may want to re-evaluate the benefits and measure your results against your definition.
- Chaining: In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about the power of linking a new habit to an existing engrained one eg. Get out of bed -> go for a run; stand up -> drink water -> deep breathing. This sets you up for success because you are already doing step one, and step two will quickly become a logical successor.
- Linguistics: The language you use to describe your habits and your relationship with them matters a great deal. When you are constantly using words that reflect compulsion or necessity (should, must, have to, ought to), you are programming your unconscious mind to find these things distasteful and difficult. That’s why 1. Definition is such an important part of creating and maintaining productive habits. Your definition will help you focus on why you are implementing this habit, and the outcome you expect and create a positive attitude towards your new habit.
Transforming Your Habits, Transform Your Life!
That’s not actually an overstatement.
Making and executing decisions takes an enormous amount of energy, will power, and brain power so it makes sense to conserve that power for key decisions and not fritter it away on everyday matters. Your habits become the path of least resistance and take over when you are busy, tired, or stressed… Why not create habits that support your life goals, rather than ones that undermine them?
Habit development is such an important topic that it figures in many of my business development and sales programs as well as my coaching and NLP training. I also run habit transformation programs a couple of times each year.
If you’re interested in how to build constructive habits and eliminate ones that no longer serve you, use the link below to join my email list and you’ll be notified when my next Habit Transformation challenge is scheduled.