Habits are powerful
Habits drive our daily behaviour. In your career you may have built certain habits that are supporting your success. These are the ‘good habits’. Any habit that will destroy your ability to succeed in life and career are called bad habits. Actions we take on a daily basis, or not take, will affect our business, our career, our life in the future.
What are habits? They could be described as daily actions triggered by a cue which we think will result in some form of personal satisfaction. Smoking is a habit and most of us do know that smoking is not good for our health. We do not want to discuss smoking here – this is more used as an example to explain habits.
In The Power of Habit, written by Charles Duhigg, a highly regarded New York Times business journalist, the author explores why some people and companies change seamlessly overnight and others struggle with change.
He reckons the answer lies in our ability to understand how habits work on the one hand, and on the other hand to focus on the daily patterns that shape our lives. We need to know what triggers our routines and what rewards we are really seeking. This appears to be critical to changing or motivating our future actions.
Charles Duhigg uses the example that every day at 3pm he would stop what he was doing, go to the office cafeteria, grab a biscuit and chat with colleagues before returning to his desk twenty or so minutes later. He knew that he was putting on weight, he just could not break his habit.
When examining his habit he established that the time of day was his ‘cue’, the trip to the cafeteria was his ‘routine’ and the cookie was his so called ‘reward’. It needed some further investigation. He found out that the real reward was not the cookie, it was that he had the opportunity to talk to his colleagues. Now that he knew the real root cause, he created new practices that became habits, that gave him the same reward: engaging with his colleagues. He substituted the bad habit with a good habit; the benefit was that he both saved time and money. On top of that he increased his productivity. The learning was that we need to identify habits that serve our purpose.
Which habits will serve the purpose of supporting our career, our success?
In order to find out which habits we do not need, we require the ability to diagnose why we continue doing what we do. An effective diagnosis of those habits will result in our ability to influence and change.
The following daily actions are widely regarded as the key habits of successful leaders. It is your turn now to ask yourself how they could reward you and your career:
- Get up early and start your day early: “The early birds catches the worm.” The earlier you start your day, the more you will have time to prepare what you will be doing, to plan what activities you are going to complete, what goal you are going to achieve or work towards today. It helps you to have a sense of control about what you are doing.
- Add value to everything and everyone: If it doesn’t add value, it shouldn’t be done. Make every interaction with you count and valuable. When people feel that you add value to their lives, they will appreciate it, talk about it and usually replicate your actions.
- Keep your industry related information up to date: Leaders and To-Be-Leaders need to remain informed and in-demand. If you don’t read the latest news, you might miss what is in demand, you might miss new practices and opportunities within your industry. Read posts on professional networks, such as LinkedIn, subscribe to online industry free publications.
- Keep up with your network: Invest in the growth of your network relevant to your career, to your industry. Also connect with new people who could be a role model for yourself. This will help future-proof your success.
- Use time wisely: There is so much of so-called ‘incidental time’, for example time spent commuting, which you could use differently, so it will improve your productivity throughout the day. If you for example used the time commuting for your personal development time or connecting with networks, you would not need to find extra time during your working hours.
- Acknowledge your achievements: Give yourself a pat on your shoulder for something well done. Do it quietly, not shouting out to the world how perfect you are – this might not be seen supporting your career and success. Just recognise where your capabilities, your knowledge and demonstrated ability of skills have added value. This will help you determining new opportunities for growth.
- Take time and reflect: We are all very busy and rush through the days. We achieve goals, do ‘stuff’ and get on with the next activity. Successful leaders take time at the end of the day and reflect what they have achieved, what their activities for the day have contributed to the success of their team and organisation. They do think about the bigger picture and plan ahead to adjust future actions are aligned to achieving the broader objectives. They will stay focused on immediate needs that support the long-term goal.
How to create good habits?
First of all you need to follow a goal before you are able to create habits. A goal then will be broken down into actions, that you need to follow every day. Whilst executing these actions on a daily basis, take the time to reflect on the new habit, whether it is beneficial to achieve the goal. Give it a go for at least 3 months. Habits are developed by becoming a routine. If you think this is too hard, maybe ask for some support. A coach will certainly assist you and will help you. Follow these 5 steps to develop good habits in your daily life:
- Identify What you Want to Achieve
- Build Good Habits Into Your Routine
- Reflect on Your Habits
- Develop Self-Discipline
- Get Support
A Career Consultant will be happy to discuss good habits that will support your career. Don’t delay your success, contact us now!