John Dryden once said, “We first make our habits, then our habits make us.”
It’s common to develop unproductive work habits. Many people drift into routines that are simply inefficient, become less organized or allow their positive attitude to deteriorate. Over time, the negative habits become the norm and it can be very difficult to break those established patterns.
Here are eight steps to break bad habits:
1. Identify Your Bad Habits- First, we must identify and acknowledge bad habits.
2. Get the Facts- It’s easier to break bad habits when one fully understands its negative impacts. For example many employees who smoke attribute the bad habit to workplace stress…
A study posted in the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) states that female smokers were about 20 times more likely to die of lung cancer and 63% more likely to die of colorectal cancer than nonsmokers. A female smoker who arms herself with these startling statistics is more likely to break the bad habit than if she did not.
3. Commit to Breaking the Habit- Making a strong, specific, public commitment helps people break bad habits. The more specific, the better. For example, a person who wishes to stop skipping meals would commit to, “Eat breakfast every day.”
4. Practice- It usually takes three weeks of constant application to form a new habit, sometimes longer. By practicing every day, even if one fails every so often, the bad habit will eventually be broken.
5. Develop Positive Thinking- We don’t have control over much in life; however we can control our attitude esp. when breaking bad habits. Positive thinking has a powerful, positive impact on one’s life. You must believe that you can break the bad habit and refrain from beating yourself up should you falter.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Remember happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think…”
6. Motivate Yourself- The attainment of any goal requires motivation which is why it’s critical to gather all of the facts regarding the negative impacts of a bad habit. It’s also why it’s equally important to publicly announce what bad habits one wishes to break or new habit the person plans to develop. Friends, family and colleagues can be a great source of motivation.
7. Develop Will power and Perseverance- Paint a picture in your mind of what you will achieve by attaining the goal of breaking the bad habit. For example, if your goal is to exercise four times per week to lose 20 lbs. in three months, picture yourself 20 lbs. lighter. Consider how you feel and look, and revisit this image if and when you slip. Stay vigilant!
Dale Carnegie once said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
8. Keep Your Eye on the Prize- Determine an incentive for breaking the bad habit. The reward does not have to be tied to the bad habit. To continue with the aforementioned example of weight loss, it wouldn’t be prudent to reward oneself with a piece of chocolate cake once he or she lost 20 lbs. The incentive must be extremely appealing in order for one to persevere.
One must invest a lot of time, effort and perseverance to break a bad habit. Remember that future achievements depend on today’s habits.
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Photo Credit: The Vintage Skeleton