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Some things you can’t change (but change something!)

Amy Bourne |

Ta-dum! A brand new year!

Forget about last year, and all the years before. It’s time to live this one: 2018.

Sure, you’ll still be dealing with old business, cleaning up old messes, tying up loose ends. But don’t feel you have to go about any of it the same old way.

Are we saying you should make a New Year’s Resolution? You can call it that, or just call it “a change”. The point is, decide to do it only if you want to, and only if you have confidence that you really can change—because you can. And only make resolutions to change that will help you in some way, and have meaning for you.

Only make resolutions that will help you in some way, and have meaning for you.

According to the New York Times, resolutions that are “S.M.A.R.T.” (like the management trope) are more likely to last. They say to check to make sure your resolution is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

So what’s a “relevant” resolution?

You have to make resolutions that make sense to you, that matter to you. What are the habits or situations in your life that have been chronically bugging you, recently or for several years?

Decide on one or two things that are holding you back and that you want to change. Picture your life changing around those resolutions. What would it take?

Anything you make toward the resolution is a good decision, anything away from it is a bad decision.

Look at your behavior as a continuum. Anything you make toward the resolution is a good decision, anything away from it is a bad decision.

Figure on triggers.

Another suggestion some have made for changing bad behavior is to break it down into the following pieces:

  • Bad Habit (what do you do that you don’t like, i.e. smoke)
  • Trigger (what makes you do it, i.e. tired or bored during a break at work)
  • Routine (i.e., stand with the smokers and pull out a cigarette)
  • Reward (feel more relaxed, less tired or bored)

When you do this, you really look at what causes the behavior and what reward it creates. Then you can:

  1. Try to avoid the trigger (bring a Power Bar to help you re-energize during a break, or jump in your car and close your eyes for five minutes)
  2. Find another way to get the same reward (catch a quick power-nap in your car, post a picture of your job-site progress or anything else on Facebook, or call a friend or family member to check in—that will eat up a few minutes, and before you know it five minutes have passed).

Do something new for your business.

Your business matters to you. It’s your livelihood and your daily bread. Sometimes when we don’t give something important to us the attention it really deserves—when we only maintain it so that it stays afloat, rather than trying to keep improving it—we convince ourselves it’s not that important. And it all becomes work, rather than an exciting and very worthwhile challenge.

Is there something you could do to get more organized and make operations smoother?

The new year is a great time to take stock of whether you’ve been doing this with your business. Is there something you could do to get more organized and make operations smoother? Throw away the inaccuracy of paper time cards once and for all and take the leap to digital time tracking, maybe?

Accept what you can’t change.

Whether you think 12-step programs are helpful or hoo-ha, it seems there is something to that saying about accepting what you can’t change, changing what you can, and having the wisdom to know the difference.

We usually can’t change other people. For example, we can tell a messy employee that they need to stop leaving their equipment in everyone’s way—but they may keep doing it, at which point we can decide whether it is worth keeping them under our employ. Or we can take away some of his or her privileges.

Bob will be Bob, and Bob is messy.

But what you can do for sure is stop wasting time and emotion on it. Blowing your top will just raise your adrenaline and stress you out, and most likely won’t change him. It’s nothing personal aimed at the rest of the people in the crew; Bob will be Bob, and Bob is messy. So clean up after him, or leave his mess. But changing your reaction (or not reacting) makes you happier. And not nagging Bob might actually be a better way to get him to change!

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Amy Bourne is the marketing copywriter for ExakTime. She enjoys learning about the real challenges faced in the construction-related field, and providing content that helps business owners work smarter.

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