Are you doing the same things expecting different results?

Have you ever stopped to actually think,
why do you do the things that you do?

I mean, all of us have our hands full in life. We work on our careers, we try to manage our health and fitness, strengthen or build relationships, and more.
Yet how many of those things are done on auto-pilot?

Changes are, most of them.
You see, we are creatures of habit. And as such, we tend to figure out a way to do things and stick with it, unless it’s harming us in a very tangible direct way. Why? because habits conserve energy, they make life much simpler. It was true back in the paleolithic era and it’s even more prominent now at the digital age, simply because we have so much data to process.
So we must have habits, we must have certain heuristics to live by.

But we don’t have to obey those that don’t work anymore.
For example, I found that constructing a schedule helps me be more productive, so I did. Back when I started that habit, my tasks were very concrete and were pretty much handed to me by the structure I had in my life (school, work, etc.).
However, this habit became practically useless nowadays. As almost none of my tasks/projects are concrete. They are very abstract and there needs to be some work done to process them into specific, concrete, and actionable tasks.

So I find myself writing down my tasks in my calendar and my todo list just as diligently as I used to. However, I get zero results. I find myself in these non-structured days to be extremely unproductive.

So I took a run, without music/podcasts/audiobooks. Just me and my thoughts. I realized that my tasks are too abstract. Therefore writing down those abstract tasks actually makes me less likely to take action on them, as they seem too large for me to tackle them.
That’s when I understood the core issue — My habit wasn’t useful because I wrote things down, but rather because I was clear about my tasks and articulated them to myself in a very concrete tangible way.

So I went about to develop a new habit — look at my bigger tasks/projects and break them down into very tangible, actionable tasks. Then put those very tangible tasks in my todo list/calendar (as appropriate).

The experiment is still ongoing, but so far it seems very promising.

So next time you find yourself working on auto-pilot, not getting the results you want, ask yourself — Am I just doing the same thing expecting different results?

Things change, and so should you.

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Software Engineer, Avid learner & Science Enthusiast

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