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Do You Need a New Routine?

Topics: Career Advice

Sometimes a radical change can seem like the smart way to achieve a goal. You think, “if I can just get to work an hour early every day, I could accomplish more and get that promotion.”

But what if you’re off-base? What if your current routine isn’t the problem?

Check yourself before you wreck your routines. Examine whether you need to change your routine – or something else.

Ask What’s Not Working

Fast Company suggests asking yourself a series of questions — such as “What’s not working in my current routine?” — before you radically change anything. Why pause and reflect? Because a successful routine looks different for everyone.

So don’t just succumb to societal norms. Really examine what works and doesn’t work for you. The early bird might get the worm, but if you’re not a morning person, you could better use that hour at the end of the day, when your natural energy surges.

But if you determine your morning routine truly is wrecking the rest of your day, revamp it. Do something you enjoy to start your day off right, or commit to a short strategic planning session when you arrive at work, instead of jumping right into emails.

When Others’ Problems Become Yours

Another sign you might need a new routine or that you’re lacking one: you find yourself tangled up in the wants and needs of other people.

Thomas Oppong, founder of @Alltopstartups and an Inc columnist, says that failing to have a routine sets you up for life just happening to you. But setting specific times to do things makes it far less likely that you’ll push them off for later  —  especially once they become habit.

But before you revamp your routine, examine whether you just need to learn how to say no.

Johanna Lanus, CEO and founder of Work With Balance, told Forbes that knowing your long- and short-term priorities and listing them out can help you stay focused on your goals, not those of other people.

“Explain that the task, project or activity doesn’t align with your current priorities and, if the situation changes, you will revisit the topic,” Lanus said.

New Routine or New Job?

If this self-examination makes you realize that your priorities don’t align with those of the company, then the issue may not be your routine or an inability to say no. You might need a new job.

If you’re operating on autopilot because you’ve done everything you can to grow and learn from your role and your company, then it’s time to look elsewhere.

“Complacency is the death of a fulfilling career,” writes Jennifer Romolini in her book, Weird in a World That’s Not.

We all have routines, but knowing whether you need to shake them up can be a hard call. If you ultimately decide that it’s your job, not your routine, that needs changed, do career research and find in-depth salary data at PayScale’s Salary Data and Career Research Center.

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