Breaking Habits That May Be Keeping Back Your Career

Do you have a habit?

Well, let me rephrase that. Do you have a bad habit that you’d like to change?

Me, too.

Whining, nail-biting, gum smacking, slouching, procrastination, gossiping, saying “like”, like, a lot. There are many bad habits to have and those are just a few of them.

In the New Year, everyone is interested in self-improvement. Resolutions are made, gym memberships are opened, and everyone and their brother goes on a diet. That’s why it’s both a perfect time and a not-so-perfect time to commit to breaking a habit. On one hand, it’s a new year! Everything is fresh! Everyone wants to try something new! On the other hand, breaking habits takes commitment. With other resolutions on one’s plate, habit-breaking may fall to the wayside.

Habits and Your Career

One thing that I’m interested in particular as of late is the effect of bad habits on one’s career. So many of the above aren’t un-professional per se, but they could make you appear less professional in an office setting. Nail biting can be distracting to co-workers and mangled cuticles may look unkempt and sloppy. If you slouch at your desk or in meetings, you may appear to be uninterested or unengaged. Saying “like” a lot could make you sound like a teenager or sound like you don’t know what you are talking about or are unsure about what you are saying (notice how I used “like” properly in that sentence?).

I’m sure that one’s employer and line of work can affect the importance or sway that bad habits have on one’s professional life. It may also be more insidious than that, as observing someone perform their bad habit may add to an overall impression of that person, rather than being an outright issue. I think it’s safe to say that it would totally suck to not get a raise or promotion or increase in responsibility because you are seen as a liability issue due to your bad habit. If your employer can’t trust you to get through a client presentation without “liking” them to death, that’s a potential problem.

Knocking Habits Down, Starting Today

As I noted above, I’m not immune to these bad habits that I speak about. In fact, I have many. In you know someone who doesn’t or if you don’t have any, please identify yourself. I need to learn from you! It’s not on my list of goals for 2013, but I do have on my flux list that I’d like to stop biting my nails. This is the year that it’s going to happen. I also want to address my prolific use of “like” when I’m nervous or unprepared. I also want to add the other gazillion habits that I have that may get in the way of my career. I want to be recognized for my ability, not for my stupid habits that I should have dropped a long time ago.

But where to begin? I think that’s the big question in all of this. My initial strategy will be mindfulness. Habits are habits because they happen… sometimes without us even giving a thought to them. By being more aware of when we perform our bad habits, we can begin to get to the root of the problem. Then, once you understand the when and the why, you can start taking actionable steps to changing the habit.

I’ll admit, I’m not an expert on this. I’m just a person who has decided that it’s time. It’s a long road ahead, but I’m motivated to do it. Without that motivation, I’m not sure that I would bother to change … or eventually succeed.

What habits to do you have? What are your strategies for breaking them?

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