Do You Have a Habit You Want To Break?

Andrew Rosen wrote out 5 steps to breaking bad habits;

Step 1: Identify your bad office habits

Routine makes us feel safe, but don’t hide under the umbrella of familiarity for too long. The problem with habits is that we let them control us. Our subconscious kicks in and tendencies take over—without us even thinking about them.

Monitor yourself for a full week as you go through average work days. Jot down any potential habits in a job journal. Whether it's an arbitrary ritual like tapping your toe three times before you enter the building or sipping on an afternoon diet soda, include it on the list. The point here isn’t to nab every habit and routine, but to find a starting point.

Step 2: Determine which habits are hurting you

Let's shoot big; identify the habit that affects you most negatively. It could be wasting time, putting physical or mental stress on your body, fatigue (from that diet soda), etc. Look at the short-term and long-term picture and prepare to face your worst habit head on.

Step 3: Stop your habit dead in its tracks

Sometimes stopping a habit is as simple as recognizing it. Next time you find yourself carrying out the habit, say to yourself, "Stop!" If you have the luxury of yelling it aloud, do it. If you’re in a public office, say it in your head (rather than risk looking bonkers).

Create a physical or graphical reminder that represents the negative outcome of the habit, and access that reminder when you need it. With the soda, for example, hang a picture of decaying teeth near your desk (or maybe in a drawer you open often, where your co-workers won’t see it). Next time you reach for that soda, you’ll at least consider drinking water instead

Step 4: Replace your bad habit with something awesome

Because office life is conducive to repetition, the same routine that created your habit might help you replace it with something useful. Instead of reaching for a coffee or candy, or rather than participating in gossip and complaints, do something that’s good for you.

Here’s one example: every time you receive a new email, instead of dropping what you’re working on, take a deep breath and clear your mind. Another positive work ritual, one that helps reduce eye strain, is practicing the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen or document, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

From breathing to stretching to resting your eyes, there are a million positive things you can do while at work.

Step 5: Hang in there

Some habits are deeply embedded, so don’t expect to replace them overnight. Instead, focus on vigilantly monitoring your habits and routines for weeks or months. Consider making “habit inventory” a weekly ritual.

Habits can be powerful, so why not have them work for you rather than against you? Master the art of habit replacement and watch your work experience improve.

His article was about the steps to take in breaking workplace habits more specifically. I have a few of my own I am working on breaking;

1. Gossip/Bad-mouthing; I found certain times of day and specific things were doing it. Not watching the news and changing my home page periodically to a new, more positive website was the habit that had to first be broken to get me out of the gossip and bad-mouthing habits.

I also had to realize that whoever I am speaking about, I can’t possibly know everything about them because a news broadcast said so, therefore, I don’t qualify as an authority on them.

2. Furrowing my brow; My love for Beethoven sometimes has me trying to look like him. When I get tense, I clench my jaw, furrow my brow and quit breathing. I am glad to say I now breathe deeply several times a day. It started out telling myself to, now I just do it regularly.

3. Anxiety; what was once considered a warranted emotion turned into a habit. I found myself getting anxious or upset in reaction to things that simply don’t require concern. Basically, my guard was up for anything coming my way. I had to assess what was a problem and what wasn’t.

4. Arguing too much; I have learned to pick my battles because essentially, I know how to argue about everything under the sun. If you are looking to pick a fight, you will find something to complain about.

5. Controlling people; I finally realized it isn’t my job to change anyone or make sure their life is going according to my plans. I have learned to let people make their own choices. In relationships, if we try to force someone to love us or pay attention to us, it’s not going to be the kind of love we will ultimately want anyways.

I want to add a sixth one on and that is Packratism or Pakratitis. It’s the accumulation of unnecessary clutter in my life. :)

Before breaking any of these habits, I had to really want to though. Without the desire to change things or break habits, it’s almost impossible to follow through.

Do you have habits you want to quit? Is there a step that has to happen inside your head first before that can be broken for good? Maybe we are rushing to break the habit before the mindset is changed.

Off to take more extraneous items to Good Will,

Karen :)

“The hard must become habit. The habit must become easy. The easy must become beautiful.”
~Doug Henning

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