The debate on how many days it takes to break/cultivate new habits rages on. Many swear by the 21/90 rule which says that if you commit to a new habit in your personal/professional life for 21 days then you are likely to have internalised it within 90 days. Then, on the other hand, we have studies that say new habits take anytime between 18-254 days to be formed! That is a big range and margin to work on! After all, individuals are different, and we all operate in our own unique ways.
You may think that breaking a habit is relatively difficult. But, psychologists say that breaking a habit and cultivating a new one are closely linked. Especially if you replace one with the other. The ‘replacement’ behaviour method works the best when you offset a bad habit with a positive one or else it has the potential to be a trap. For example, replacing cigarette smoking with pizza binges is hardly going to help, is it?
When you peep deep into your professional life, you may come across many habits that you may wish to replace with another. The first step is to be really self-aware of the habits that derail your growth into a better professional and human being.
Some habits that we need to catch sooner before they pull us down are:
1. Self-criticism bordering on low risk-taking ability
Oh, this one resonates, doesn’t it? ‘I am no good.’ ‘I don’t know anything about this.’ ‘This is not my cup of tea. I have never done this before and hence I won’t succeed here.’
As you work your way up in your career, there are bound to be situations where a new project/assignment comes your way and you feel completely out of depth. You are not the only one to feel so. The trick is to turn this into an opportunity to learn and seek support from other colleagues in the organisation.
2. Need for approval
‘Delegation’ and ‘empowerment’ are good to have ‘words’ in your kitty. They will stay as ‘words’ if you do not actually practice them. You are hired for the skills and competencies that you bring to the table. So, when your manager delegates you to a particular task, she/he is empowering you to lead and make decisions that are best for that task. Do not fall into the trap of going back to your manager for approval on each and every thought/idea that comes to you. Develop a solution-oriented mindset instead of one that is besieged with looking for problems.
3. What do others think?
Beware if you are the one that always seeks out the opinion of others only to act on those and not on the one that you wanted to. Taking into consideration diverse views is a great way to expand your thinking. It is only when the opinion of others overrides your own rational thinking and sway you to act against your own gut that this spells trouble. If you pause to reflect on this habit, you will find many examples of this in your personal life as well.
4. Comparing yourself to others
I plead guilty to giving in to this one very often. Till I pull myself up and say, ‘Hey, there will always be someone better/worse than me.’ The universe is made of unique individuals and you are no different. You possess your own aura and your own strengths. Take a moment to find your secret sauce and dip into this resource whenever you are low or caught in a situation that overwhelms you.
5. Holding on to toxic relationships
Again, a situation that is not uncommon to professionals. When you chose to stay in toxic work relationships you land up doing more harm to yourself. Exposing yourself to stress due to negative emotions will take a toll on you. A poor relationship with your manager or colleague can lead to low levels of self-esteem. Talk about this and seek solutions. It is never too late to mend relationships and bring your performance back on track.
The best part about habits is that you can replace one with another. Let go where needed!
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