Whether you’re starting the new semester refreshed or already behind of schedule, this can be the fall that you start following through on your great ideas. Make some new habits to avoid becoming a full-time firefighter.
We all know the feeling: You return to your work full of ideas and inspiration. There are a few things you’d like to do differently this time around, and maybe you’ll finally have the time to try out something. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and you find yourself behind schedule. Pretty soon you’re tied to putting out fires, your good intentions dissolving into thin air.
Studies show that intentions are not that strong predictors of even relatively simple behaviors, such as voting or using a condom. For more long-term, complex activities, like starting your own company, intentions have an even smaller effect. Immediate client needs and projects always end up eating away too much time from more strategic development needs. The good news is, that there are a number of things you can do to increase your odds of development actually happening.
1. Make it tangible.
What do you want to develop specifically? Write it down, draw it, make a prototype of it, or do something else to concretize your idea further. Vague needs and ideas need to be specified in order to be pursued. For example entrepreneurs tend to see so many opportunities and possibilities, it can paradoxically deplete energy from actually pursuing any of them. You can always change your focus later on, but you will learn very little until you do something.
2. Then share it.
Feedback is a crucial source of energy for development. Sustaining idea advancement efforts through setbacks hinges on the how valuable others’ see your idea. Concretizations like prototypes and pilot events also provide great opportunities for others to join your efforts.
3. Make it a habit.
Think about how you can work development into your routine. Almost half of our daily actions are out of habit rather than based actual decisions. Action triggers are key to sticking to good intentions in exercising or dieting, and the same can apply to development. What will you do when facing the temptation of urgent emails or videos of cute animals?
4. Do the least you can.
Instead of planning to achieve huge leaps in development, think about what’s the least you can do. What would be a ridiculously small turtle step towards your idea? Creating new habits takes a lot of time. While lofty goals might sound like a good idea, they seem to work better for one-off efforts. If you want to weave development into your work permanently, constant failures and lagging behind can be discouraging.
5. Ask yourself questions.
Simply asking yourself whether you intend to develop something can increase the chance that you actually will. For instance, if you want to develop a new feedback routine, ask yourself if your going to do it, or better yet, when are you going to do so specifically. So what are you going develop this fall?
If you’ve been promising yourself to make time to communicate your research to a wider audience, start by joining our Research Meets World sessions at the ADF library every other Wednesday. Make it a habit.