(2.5 Minute Read or Listen Below)
Happily ever after. That's how the best fairy tales end, isn't it?
We all live the fairy tale when we accomplish a goal and get that euphoric sense of accomplishment. We worked hard, conquered the problem, now it's time to move on. But that's where the fairy tale ends, and we return to our real life, already in progress. The problem? Most adventures don't have an "ever after" solution. There is no "done."
Too often, we fall prey to sunken cost bias, continuing behavior because of previously invested resources, like time, money, and effort. We become anchored in our accomplishment and lose sight of staying adaptable as things change around us. Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't feel good about our achievements. Quite the opposite, I'm a HUGE fan of feeling accomplished. What I recommend to my clients is active awareness.
Active awareness keeps us conscious of our changing environment while staying open and flexible when things need to pivot and adapt. It's rare for a solution to last forever. Most of the time, the solution lasts for a while. Then friction creeps back in. Things no longer work the way we want them to. But because of our previous effort, we overlook it. We tell ourselves, the problem can't be recurring. After all, we fixed it.
Instead, with active awareness, we naturally move into a process of reevaluation. We acknowledge our solution has stopped working, but we don't put up resistance. We raise our curiosity. Barbara Hemphill has devised an ingenious sequence called "The Four Questions™." These simple questions are incredibly effective at guiding us through a periodic re-examination of our circumstances.
The meaning of the fourth question may not be apparent, so please allow me to explain. When used in the context of organization and productivity, to "recover quickly" refers to how swiftly we can bring ourselves back to equilibrium. For example, our desk or office may look disheveled throughout the week while we're working, but we can quickly put things back where they belong on Friday afternoon, and we're ready for the new week to begin on Monday. That is what it means to recover quickly.
We know life happens. Processes change, we start new jobs, implement new software, or we unexpectedly begin working from home due to a novel coronavirus.
Just remember The Four Questions™:
Active awareness gives us permission to revisit our systems and adapt accordingly. We don't buy groceries once and eat forever. We don't change the oil only once in the lifetime of our car. Periodic ongoing maintenance is typically required for things to continue working - including our systems.
These periodic check-ins are so important I've included "Reevaluation" as the capstone step of my signature service. By doing this, clients understand it's an acceptable and critical step to their continued success.
Don't wish for the fairy tale ending. Embrace active awareness as a necessary part of growth and development. Things will always change, and we must adapt and change with them.
What's causing friction in your systems? Maybe it's time to take another look.
Learn your Productive Environment Score™ today at www.newpathpro.com/scorecard