This week I kicked a habit, my coffee habit. To be honest it wasn’t a really bad one, I was already a real coffee only person, but I had come to believe that it was a fact that I couldn’t start my day without coffee and that to give up would mean getting headaches etc.
How did I quit? By accident really. We’ve been on a 3 week holiday touring Vancouver Island (which was a brilliant trip – watch out for the e-book), we were staying in hostels and I didn’t have the facility to brew coffee, so I went without until we had brunch or afternoon pecan pie. Then in Victoria they provided free coffee and toast in the morning so I had some – 30 mins later I had the shakes. And that was it, I knew there and then this is my opportunity to break my morning coffee habit.
However, when we came back I saw how easy it is to step straight back into the habits as they go with the territory and the routine. When I got up of a morning I had to make a conscious decision to not have coffee. I didn’t want it or need it, but in that half sleep state the habits take over.
I have now gone for 10 days not having coffee as my first drink of the day back home. I still have a cup of coffee, but later in the day as a treat. It isn’t the caffeine that’s an issue, it’s knowing that I was responding to a false belief about myself.
So why am I telling you this?
Well it got me thinking about the things that we do in our business life that are just a habit and whether or not we are aware that they are just a habit, or if we have come to believe that they are an essential part of our business day.
I’d been talking to friends before I left about our evening consumption and that if we change what we are doing we don’t need that glass of wine or bar of chocolate, but when we maintain the same routine we just automatically do it. Taking 3 weeks out of routine has really shown me all that is true. I have a glass of wine or beer most evenings, again hardly life threatening but clearly just a habit that I did not do whilst travelling.
Sometimes we have to step away from our routine to see what bad habits we have developed in business. Mine were clearly about a less than healthy lifestyle and an unhealthy me means an unhealthy business.
All good business thinkers know that time away from the desk is where the important thinking gets done. Unfortunately that has often been translated into outdoor challenge days/ weekends. Now I love the outdoors, but an enforced ‘team building day’ is not always the most productive investment into a team. When I was a team leader in a very emotionally stressful job we occasionally went to the Lake District for a walk and lunch. No targets to meet, no competitive behavior, just to clear our heads and to be together differently. As a business owner I still have a monthly ‘thinking day’ in the Lake District. Not everyone will see the value in it, but I absolutely do.
It took me 2 weeks away from the business to start to really see clearly the things that I could do differently. Obviously a team 2 week break is not possible, or desirable, but a team event after everyone is fresh from their summer break might be a good plan. Or even doing a one to one with team members when they get back from their holiday to listen to what they have learnt and what ideas they brought back.
Inevitably we all think about work while we are on holiday, pondering what is good and isn’t and forming new ideas. Taking time with team members when they are fresh and thinking clearly is a good investment. Where as coming back from a break and going straight back into the same old same old can be soul destroying.
It’s well worth remembering that more than half of ‘life-changing decisions’ are made while relaxing on holiday and returning from holidays are a time when people notice how dissatisfied they are. Not addressing that could be costly to your organisation.
When I worked in local government we had post-sickness interviews with our line manager. A post-holiday supervision session would be way more useful.
I ensured that I had a coaching session within a week of coming back so I could build on my fresh thinking before I got bogged down in the day to day again.
What habits do you need to kick in your business? and how will you go about doing that? I’d love your feedback, so please leave a comment below.