Want Success in
the New Year?
Give Up the Bad Habits for Good!
By Max Izenberg
thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to
give up than bad ones.”
- Somerset Maugham
Being human, we are all creatures of habit. Of course not
all habits are bad; we know that successful people generally have
good habits. We all recognize and perhaps even envy the office
receptionist with her impeccable time management and multi-tasking
skills, or the manager who not only handles a busy workload but also
lends a helping hand to her team – and makes it all look easy. We
may even look up to these successful role models as we form our own
New Year’s resolutions for the workplace.
So we begin to visualize a new person – one who will somehow
be an improved model better than the one of the last year. However,
while we have all the best intentions, how can we motivate ourselves
to keep these promises and throw away the bad habits? The key is to
make the promises more of a possibility instead of a one-time
pledge. As Mark Twain said, “Giving up smoking is easy – I’ve done
it hundreds of times.”
If you’re guilty of committing the following “bad” workplace
habits, help is here! Follow these tips and guidelines to get back
on the path to personal and professional success:
Are you guilty
of showing up to the office or meetings just a few minutes late?
This kind of habit can put the brakes on your career climb, so it’s
time to put an end to it. But how? Little changes here and there
can make it less of a challenge! For example, move the time on your
clocks forward by five or 10 minutes, or place a note on your mirror
that says, “I will show up on time!” These tips will mentally
prepare you to arrive on time and serve as daily motivators. Ready
to add more? Make your morning routine easier and more efficient.
Eat a quick breakfast at home instead of heading for the drive-thru
or set your coffeemaker instead of stopping by the coffee shop. You
can even pick out your clothes the night before to shave a few
minutes from your morning routine. If overcoming tardiness seems
overwhelming, just try one change first and master it. Then
gradually add a few others and soon enough you’ll be known for
showing up early instead of late!
Are you guilty
of snacking on bad-for-you foods, especially when stuck in a
cubicle? Unfortunately, this kind of unhealthy habit can lead to
some sneaky pounds on your frame. It can be even worse if you have
to travel for work and eat out. However, if you want to drop those
love handles, start by visualizing yourself a few pounds lighter.
Buy yourself an amazing work outfit – but buy it a size or two
smaller. Then, hang it next to your mirror so you see it each day
as you get ready for work. Imagine how great you will look and how
your colleagues, friends and relatives will see you in a different
and slimmer light. Then put it into action by bringing lunch to
work a few days each week, or taking the stairs instead of the
elevator. Bringing a pedometer to work can help keep you on the
right track to achieving that image. Soon enough you’ll work off
those few pounds and become the vision you’ve been thinking about.
Are you guilty of
talking on the phone too loudly or wearing too much cologne – to the
point where you irritate your co-workers? If your bad habit is
being discourteous to others in the workplace, stop it so you will
be able to continue your climb in the workplace. The first step is
being aware of your colleague’s thoughts and respecting how they
feel about you. If you are known as the guy who plays his radio too
loudly or the manager who wears too much perfume, it’s time to
establish a new reputation.
Step out of your “world” and get to know your officemates so
you can understand how they see you. Then, take the steps to repair
your image, whether it’s taking your personal calls outside during a
break or easing up on the perfume/cologne. It’s hard to recognize
our own bad habits, much less realize the effect they can have on
others, but once you do congratulate yourself. Taking these
courteous steps can go a long way in the workplace and you deserve a
Is your bad
habit unhealthy AND unpopular with your colleagues? If you’re the
only smoker in your office, then you probably know how it feels.
Make this your year to quit, and share your decision with your
officemates for increased success. Give them the actual date you
plan to quit, and chances are they will help hold you accountable.
In fact, their support may help you create a successful and clean
break from smoking! Sharing your goals with a supportive community
(including friends and family) is a very effective way to end those
the person who waits until the last possible minute to finish your
projects? Do you make everyone wait on pins and needles to see if
your work will arrive on time? Unfortunately, procrastinating will
not lead you far on your career path. So, replace that bad habit
with a good one! Manage your time instead of letting it manage you.
Use both electronic calendars/reminders and paper calendars
to keep you on track. Do you need to look at one day at a time, a
week at a time or a whole month to stay focused? Choose what works
for you. If you are easily distracted by other projects, e-mails
and conference calls, schedule a block of time in your appointment
book to focus on one project, and only that one project. You can
even ask a trusted officemate to hold you accountable for your
deadlines. Whatever you do, utilize a system that works for you and
eventually your procrastination habit will “disappear.”
Being a “Yes”
Are you the
colleague everyone turns to when they need help? While this can be a
good thing, it can also suggest that people are taking advantage of
your “just-can’t-say-no” nature. In fact, you may be overwhelmed by
all the projects and committees you’ve taken on. Now is the time to
break that habit and create a goal that works. If you feel guilty
about saying “no” try this exercise: look into the mirror and
practice saying it. Really! Get comfortable with saying the word.
Then, prioritize your goals. If you say “yes” to every project, you
won’t have time for your own job responsibilities. Make a list of
the projects and activities that are necessities for your career,
then prioritize the rest. Start saying “no” to those that do not
make it into your top five or 10 list. Soon enough, you’ll be back
in control of your career.
Psychologists agree that breaking bad habits usually take
about thirty days, so be resolute for that time period in order to
give yourself a chance to change. Realize that although New Year’s
is just around the corner, it’s up to us to stay accountable for our
own actions no matter what time of year we make our promises. In
that eternal quest for self-improvement, stick to your guns, and
ensure that your bad habits do not stand in the way of your success!
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