To begin with, a habit is defined as an acquired behaviour or thought pattern which you repeat frequently, making it almost unconscious. Naturally, habits can be both helpful and harmful to your personal and professional life. Because they are automatic, habits can be advantageous, in the sense that your brain is freed up to focus on other things that require attention. Good habits like being optimistic, arriving at work on time, giving positive feedback, obeying driving etiquette create a positive energy for us and those around us.
Conversely, certain seemingly harmless habits such as scrolling through your phone on a date, checking emails during a meeting, being chronically late to events or client meetings, gossiping, being resistant to needed change, attention seeking, or even being on social media with work unattended are just a few habits that could potentially harm your social and work life. It is, therefore, worth pausing and figuring out how to deal with these habits. Remember that whether or not a habit is “bad” depends on the context. For example, perfectionism can be a good habit in jobs where safety is important.
Break Those Bonds
It’s possible to replace the bad with the good. It only takes a bit of time. According to behavioural research, on average, it takes about 66 days of consistently engaging in behaviour to make it a pattern, so perhaps the same can be said for breaking it? This may seem overwhelming. But remember, your bad habit could be damaging your reputation and career, and it is well worth putting in time and effort to overcome it. There is no blanket solution for all habits. You may need to employ more than one strategy to achieve success.
Reward Yourself and Make It A Team Effort
Each time you successfully avoid a bad habit, you should reward yourself. This is vital because you will send a feel-good sensation (dopamine) into your brain, making it associative with pleasure. You will be training yourself in the real sense. How you reward yourself is up to you but aim for things that you enjoy and get happiness from. You get the best feeling from rewarding yourself as soon as your good deed is done or within the same day, if possible. Bring in friends and trusted family members to help you achieve your goals. Being accountable to someone makes you work harder and motivates you to be better.
Make A Plan
You can’t just cold turkey quit on your bad manners. You need a starting point. One way to do it is making a note of habits you want to do away with and recording moments when they occur. This helps you guarantee that you review your progress on a regular basis, and work on your most damaging habits first.
Be Aware and Disciplined
You have to cultivate a pattern of discipline in order to break the habit. Remain aware of your thoughts and feelings. Self-awareness is the key to spotting the habits. Self-discipline and willpower can initially be an uphill task, appearing in short bursts, so you can’t rely on this alone. While some may find it possible to quit at once, others need time. Find an approach that will work for you, depending on the habit you want to break. Place obstacles between you and your bad habit. For intake, if social media at work is your weakness, move desks so that people who are passing by can see your screen; that always annoys people. Avoid places, people or situations that trigger the bad habits you want to quit. If the habit is constantly gossiping with colleagues during lunch, eat at your desk for a change, or sit with a book as you eat. Instead of checking emails during meetings, bring a notebook so you can jot down notes. If the habit is being critical of others, always make a conscious effort to pause, praise or say nothing at all.
For example, let’s say that you want to stop criticising team members. One way to avoid this would be to make a conscious effort to find something good they have done and praise them for it instead.