Now you know what a habit is and how it’s formed, you’re probably curious on how to identify bad and good habits. In your personal life, you most likely already know what your bad habits are. In your work life, it might be more difficult to tell.
How to Identify Bad and Good Habits
One way to determine if you have a bad habit that needs to be changed is to ask others. Then you can work on changing them to good habits. Good habits are often recognized when you are getting the results you want from a certain aspect of your life. For example, your business is growing. Here are some examples of both kinds of habits.
Examples of Good Work Habit
- You are a doer. You don’t procrastinate when you have deadlines looming. As a result, you are consistently finishing projects and taking on new challenges. You don’t put off doing work because of fear of failing or a lack of planning.
For example, Jane has a big presentation coming up in a month. She has set up a schedule for herself to complete each step of what needs to be done. Each day she completes what needs to be done in order to have her presentation ready. She has a good habit of following through and doing the work.
- You take responsibility and ownership of your work even when something goes wrong.
For example, Adam researched the data on a project the company he works for was doing. The company began working on the project only to find the data was incorrect. Adam realized the mistake was his. He has a good habit of taking responsibility for his work.
- You’re an active learner. You keep up with the latest trends and news in your niche. You get involved in projects that help you learn new skills or technology.
For example, Michelle reads the latest news and trends in her niche every day before beginning her work. She uses that knowledge to keep her business up to date and current. She volunteers to be a part of a project that is testing new technology she is excited to learn. This shows her good habit of always learning.
- You’re organized. You keep your desk organized, you keep paperwork organized, and you have a system of doing things.
For example, Lee is notorious for filing papers as soon as he finishes with them. He keeps his desk clean and organized and the files on his computer are kept in well-labeled files. His good habit of being organized helps him to be more efficient at his job.
Tips for Developing Good Habits
I’ve already shown you that developing a new habit can take a long time. Here are some tips to help you develop your own.
- Focus on one habit at a time. Forming a new habit is a lot of work and takes conditioning for it to become automatic. Trying to take on too many changes at once can overwhelm you. Start with one, even a small one, before moving on to another.
- Gradually work up to it. For example, if your goal is to be organized at work, you won’t be able to be instantly organized every day. It will take time and willpower to keep up with it every day in the beginning. There will be days you slip and leave an unorganized mess on your desk. That’s okay. Just keep at it until it becomes a habit.
- Build the good habit into your routine of regular habits. For example if you want to start taking vitamins every day, put the bottle in your coffee cup so whenever you grab you mug for coffee in the morning you can take you vitamin as well.
- Get an accountability buddy. In your business, you probably have someone to stay accountable to that keeps you on track. The same is true when trying to create a good habit. Trying to change on your own can be difficult but if you have someone who can do it with you or keep you motivated, you’re more likely to continue doing it.
- Give yourself time to develop your self-discipline. I’ve mentioned before it takes time to form a new habit. On average, it can be around 66 days. That means you are going to have to build your self-discipline. One way to do this is to create a visual map of what you want to achieve. So, for example, you want to be the leader in your company’s next big project. Create a visual map of what you need to do to be a leader. Include words like confident, focused, good listener, a doer. This map reminds you of why you want to form that new positive habit. Developing good, positive habits helps you reach your goals.
But what about those bad habits? How do you recognize and change them?
Improving Bad Habits
Remember Joe from our story earlier? He had a few bad habits such as eating unhealthy food while watching mindless television shows and avoiding exercise. His job performance was just as bad. His desk is covered with papers and clutter. He doesn’t finish projects or take responsibility for when he does something wrong.
Ignoring your bad habits might seem like the way to avoid them but eventually these habits catch up to you. Your bad habits will hold you back from moving forward.
You already know that smoking and late night ice cream binges are bad habits. These aren’t the only kind of bad habits though. They can include a variety of emotional, cognitive and behavior consequences.
Here are some bad habit examples:
- You don’t learn from your mistakes. You continue to make the same unhealthy or inefficient choices repeatedly.
For example, Elizabeth has been trying to lose some weight. She goes to the gym every day. The problem is she doesn’t change her eating habits. She still has a doughnut and soda for breakfast every day and snacks on sugary sweets. Each time she starts a new routine at the gym, she doesn’t make the necessary changes to her diet.
- You resent other’s people’s success. You’re jealous that they seem to have what you don’t. You don’t look at how hard they worked to get there.
For example, Bob works with a fellow marketer. His friend just received a promotion and the lead in a big account. Bob feels he should have been chosen. He didn’t always turn in his marketing ideas on time, but so what? He did the work, eventually. Why shouldn’t he be the one to get the promotion?
- You procrastinate. You put things off until the last minute then end up doing a poor job.
For example, Betty is a writer. She loves her job, but always thinks she can put off her research and writing until later. She waits until the day before her article is due before she begins researching. As a result, she ends up staying up late finishing her article. It’s filled with errors and is never her best work.
- You’re afraid to take risks. You don’t step up or speak up because you’re afraid of what others will think of you or you might fail.
For example, John wants to open a business selling dog collars. He loves creating them and has a lot of ideas. The problem is that he’s afraid no one will buy them, even though he gets compliments on them. John is afraid to ask others for help in getting started. Instead, he continues to go to a job he hates and makes his dog collars as a hobby.
Be sure to check back next week for Part Two!