The simple answer to that question is “Yes.” Habits can both help and hinder. The trick is to determine which habits are the helpful ones and which habits are the ones that don’t help. Here are tips to jump start your journey to making sure your habits are working for you.
Become aware of your habits. Habits are something that we do without thinking … it is our autopilot kicking in. To become aware of habits takes effort:
Focus on being present, be in the moment and notice what you are doing, thinking and feeling. Notice the environment when you become aware of something you seem to do out of habit. Look for something that might trigger the habit.
Is it a certain time of day?
Is it when someone approaches you when you are busy?
Is it during a regular activity like a reoccurring meeting?
Remember to note what you are doing, thinking and feeling.
Believe in yourself. If the habit is determined to not be useful (it might even be a habit that holds you back), recognize your ability to modify or change it.
Believe in your abilities … remember that your subconscious mind believes everything you tell it, so tell yourself you can do it. Mindset it critical.
Put it in writing. Write down what you want to stop doing and what you want to start doing. Read it a few times to be sure it is clear to you.
Stick with it. Depending on the habit, it can take an average of up to 66 days to create and potentially longer if you’re working to replace an existing habit.
Write down why it is important to succeed.
What do you want to achieve?
How will this make you feel?
How will you benefit?
How will others benefit?
Keep this list with you and read it daily … modifying it as needed as you are gaining momentum and realizing the benefits.
Use visual cues to remind you of the habit you are working on. For example:
If you want to remember to drink more water, have a water glass out where you will see it every morning.
If you are working on a habit that you’ve determined happens during meetings, take your watch off and put it in front of you as a reminder.
Charles Duhigg, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has written a book to help us with our habits. It is called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. This book takes a serious look at the science of habit formation and change. Resist the “oh-no” feeling that can be generated when the word “science” is used. This book explains science in layman terms and shares case studies that bring concepts to life.
Duhigg is encouraging about how the science can be used. “Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”