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Detours: Short Cuts or the Long Way?

I got a message from a friend this AM saying that the one of the main roads that I use to take my children to school was closed due to an accident. She recommended I take a different route. I was glad that for the heads-up and was able to shift my plans and get my girls to school on time.

However, on the way home I decided to get SMRT (and yes, I’ve spelled that correctly) [1], in part due to curiosity and in part due to wanting the most direct, quickest route home, so I decided to wind my way through the side streets to get home.

That was a mistake. It wasn’t a SMART decision.

All the side streets were clogged with traffic trying as everyone tried to find the quickest way to their destination. My normal 10-minute commute back from school became a 40-minute crawl. With no real way to avoid the congestion (I was committed now), I patiently waited for the traffic to crawl forward and inch me toward my own driveway.

The great news? It gave me some time to contemplate life and business.

As I pondered my decision to use the side roads, when I could have realistically taken a big loop around the accident and the congestion, I reflected on all the times in my life when I’ve tried to take the short cut to get the job done, to ensure that I could maximize my time, to make a SMRT choice—and it hasn’t worked out as planned. My commuting route today was one of those decisions.

However, as I think about the decisions I sometimes make in my business – choosing what seems like the easy, most direct route to my goals; skipping a step in my planning process; or getting distracted due to curiosity about the new shiny object that seems so promising – I recognize that in most cases, these SMRT choices aren’t in fact SMART decisions. The backfiring takes me longer and distracts me from my ultimate goal of growing my business strategically.

It makes me wonder if focusing on the long, often more difficult option isn’t the SMART choice – as it builds a stronger, more sturdy foundation for growth. After all, if I’d taken the longer, more circular route, I would have been home 20 minutes earlier, leaving me more time to work on what is important in my business.

Do you ever make SMRT choices that distract you from your larger vision for your life or your business? If so, what habits are you working on putting in place to overcome these not-so-SMRT choices? What have you learned along the way?

[1]In our house when we spell out SMRT this way, we are referring to a not-so-smart decision or choice; one that doesn’t have positive results.

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