As a business consultant, my work involves helping businesses assess and solve problems, to put it simply. Broadly speaking, I find effective solutions for them to redefine their status quo. To do this successfully, consultants have their unique set of tools to challenge and guide businesses. These include steering businesses to be introspective in order to perform an accurate current state assessment, to gain focus and continually refocus on a vision, and to implement incremental, strategic changes in order to break the bad habits that are preventing them from reaching their goals.After having been a consultant for 2 years now, I’ve found that in order to perform my job with excellence it is essential for me to challenge my own status quo as well. If I talk the talk to a 50 million-dollar company, I sure as heck should walk the walk.
I like to think that I instinctively strive to improve all aspects of my life – eating healthy, exercising, volunteering in the community, picking up new hobbies, spending quality time with friends and family. But oftentimes the daily grind becomes muscle memory, and I fall into a mindless routine. Things get easy, too comfortable. Weeks and months can go by, and I’ll have failed to notice how stale I’ve let my creativity and mind go. When I get stuck in this type of rut, there are 3 steps that I have found to be helpful to jumpstart, what I like to call, “recalibrating” myself. You’ll notice how they parallel what it takes to successfully execute a new business solution.
Step 1. Uncomfortable, intentional introspection.
Take at least 10 minutes of your day to reflect on what you accomplished, and what you did NOT accomplish, that day, that week, that month. Notice when you push things aside for the second or third time. Instead of focusing on the frustration you feel for not picking up the new hobby you’ve been meaning to start for the last 4 months, think about the reasons why you haven’t. Are they fear based? Or time constraints? Paying attention to these reasons breaks that first layer of staleness.
Step 2. Defining your short-term success.
When leading a project, you determine early on what a win looks like. The same concept applies to recalibrating yourself. Define what success looks like for yourself and realize that you’ll likely repeat this step multiple times within even a year. In my most recent exercise of these steps, I had decided that success is reaching my annual goals at work, making a positive impact on the community, and spending quality time with friends and family. Earlier this year it was to exercise 5 times a week. As priorities change, so will your definition of success.
Step 3 – Rebuilding with incremental changes.
Once you’re through assessing your current state and you’ve created a new definition of success, start introducing incremental changes into your daily routine. When I get to a point where I’m not happy with my baseline, it’s often because I’ve let my ability to focus slip. With technology at my fingertips, it’s easy for me to distract myself when I’ve reached a mental hurdle, rather than taking the time and effort to work through it. So, my hack to retrain focus has been simple. I sit in my workspace and do uninterrupted work for small blocks of time – 10 to 15 minutes. Increase these blocks a few minutes each day, and before you know it you’ll reach an hour or more of focused work. Another hack for me was to leave my phone in my car for 30 minutes, then an hour, then 2 to 3 after coming home from work. These small, deliberate changes will clear your path to success.
Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions with regards to this blog.