Welcome to July, known for its elaborate firework displays, BBQs and flag-bearing cars and homes. Since 1776, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of this country’s independence—our freedom. As I reflected on this idea while developing the July wellness challenge, it came to me. Let’s take the month of July to liberate ourselves from a bad habit that we just have not been able to shake free from, until now.
The obstacle is clear. Habits take time, practice, and repetition to form so breaking them will require that same discipline. The error is often found in our approach. Rather than making your goal something you won’t do, instead frame your goal as what you intend to start doing (as a replacement to the bad habit). Studies have shown that the more you suppress your thoughts, the more likely you are to revert to your old ways. Changing habits requires motivation, so we want to focus on what we can achieve rather than what we can no longer indulge in. (Shortsleeve, 2018)
Let’s keep it work-focused. In today’s climate, creating a work environment that is happy and low-stress for ourselves and others is critical. You may recognize that you are carrying around a bad habit that is affecting your co-workers, be it a bad attitude or repeated tardiness to meetings. At a time when many companies have adopted a remote work force, poor behavior can lead to further isolation or even shunning in extreme cases--making it almost impossible to maintain a healthy company culture. According to Rick Myers, founder and chief executive of Talent Zoo, “one of the best pieces of advice to give to someone who wants to advance in their company is to become more self-aware and be sure they practicing habits that will be of value to the company.” (Smith, 2012)
Many bad habits exist because they are merely a shortcut for our brains. Humans are creatures of habit, designed to seek out the quickest way possible to do everything! Habits are formed when our brain becomes aware that we are continuing to perform a certain behavior repeatedly. The habit then becomes ingrained in our memory and we shift into autopilot. Those bad habits can ultimately affect our wellbeing and our happiness. (The 6 Keys to Breaking Bad Habits, 2019)
First step: Identify your bad “office” habit and initiate the new counter habit. Then repeat, repeat, repeat! Finally, be sure to find a small way to reward yourself along the way in an effort to stay motivated and in recognition of your hard work. Maybe buy or borrow a new book, or indulge in a movie marathon at week’s end, or simply reflect on and list out the positive effects of your new habit. We recommend posting your replacement goal somewhere, whether that’s a sticky note on your computer or on a white board by your desk. Maybe it’s a pop-up reminder on your phone. Keep yourself accountable for maintaining your new habit and releasing yourself from the clutches of the old. Habits can be powerful. Let’s master the art of habit replacement and enjoy our newfound independence. (Rosen, 2010)
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Rosen, A. (2010, October 26). 5 Steps to Breaking Bad Work Habits. Retrieved from money.usnews.com: https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2010/10/26/5-steps-to-breaking-bad-work-habits
Shortsleeve, C. (2018, August 28). 5 Science-Approved Ways to Break a Bad Habit. Retrieved from time.com: https://time.com/5373528/break-bad-habit-science/
Smith, J. (2012, October 17). 14 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Your Job. Retrieved from forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/10/17/14-bad-habits-that-can-cost-you-your-job/?sh=71a1c5905b53