Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Are you on automatic pilot?

I've written many times in the past about not getting stuck on autopilot, the need to step out of our comfort zone or even comfort universe, and breaking out of the mould.

I'm not sure I'd truly understood what that meant, or perhaps the benefit of sustaining these new behaviours until now.

As part of my 4 new habits in 28 day challenge I decided to do one thing differently every day. I've updated the blog I wrote at the time to show a list of what I did differently over those 28 days.

In this post I'd like to share the insights I got from undertaking this seemingly simple habit.

There's certainly something counter intuitive about setting a goal of doing something different everyday - as if trying to make the spontaneous less so. That said it's been truly transformative.

Here's what I discovered:

  • You can't truly understand the impact of a new behaviour until you've done it for 28 days. Much of this insight only came after persisting with the habit - ie once the easier responses had been left behind.
  • It's easy for a behaviour to become a habit or a way of responding to the world without thinking. This in turn reduces choice we have about actions we take. For example I love having a bath in the morning and don't really like showers. Having a bath however had become the default setting. Imagine my surprise when I brought the decision into conscious awareness, and realised on days when I'm busy a shower could give me another hour in my day!  Ditto the habit to turn on the TV to eat my tea, and then find the evening has disappeared - sometimes with mindless channel hopping. 
  • I had no idea how often I said "No", or "I don't like", or "I don't ..."! Atleast scanning for something different to do meant I questioned my "No"s, and in a lot of instances changed them to "Yes", and for more than the 28 days too e.g. coffee drinking, tea drinking, trying new foods, and so on.    
  • The automatic response based on previous experience isn't always correct. In the past I've been very tired at the end of training sessions, and often retreated to the hotel room and more mindless TV or a long bath. During the challenge I said "yes" on a number of occasions to going out, and found that going out doesn't further deplete my energy but energises me. So much better for seeing family, friends and more widely when I'm out and about around the UK and further afield when training.
  • Handing over control to others can be fun - I let someone else choose my nail varnish colours. Yes I know it's not a biggie - but letting control in my life is big for me. As Karen found out as she herself found it difficult to take the control fearing she was doing it wrong at every stroke of the brush. An interesting observation too about the impact on others of my need for control - I'll need to consider that some more.
  • Annoying outcomes can be changed to make them less painful! e.g just because I've always done my invoices at the end of every month doesn't mean I have to continue to do so. Doing them as I go along has certainly taken the pain out of doing them.

In conclusion doing something different every day enabled me to face some habits that were long over due an upgrade.

What will you do differently today?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change - inside and out

More on the outcome of the 28 day challenge can be found here.

Hypertext links in the text above link to previous blogs on the subject

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