Here’s my 5 step plan.
Step 1: Stop denying it – Recognizing you need help is 50% of the battle. Signs that you may be a Firefighting Addict (FA) include:
- you haven’t achieved your important goals for the day but you know you were busy
- you ignore calendar appointments with yourself for critical activities
- taking the time to think through work processes before beginning feels like a waste of time
- you frequently cancel important-but-not-urgent meetings to take care of unexpected problems
Step 2: Say it out loud – Tell someone that you are battling FA. Just don’t expect them to be surprised – everyone around you already knows. Do it anyway. It’s therapeutic.
Step 3: Choose a replacement habit – It’s not enough to say stop. You need something compelling to take your mind off the fires that are probably raging around you. Remember, the fires have not gone away. What you’re changing is your reaction to said fires. I suggest reviewing your performance goals.
Step 4: Pick your cold turkey day – A goal without a deadline is a wish with no power behind it. To make it extra effective, tell others what you’re doing and when. There is something very sobering about living up to public commitments.
Step 5: Reinforce your decision – You will need to do this frequently. The people around you who previously benefited from your generosity will be shocked when you don’t take the bait next time around. It’s okay to let them be uncomfortable.
Peter Drucker said it best:
Time is the scarcest resource available.