7 March 2018

What’s your worst habit? We all have them.

I bet that when you hear the word habit, you jump immediately to smoking, drinking, eating badly; the personal habits that many of us fall foul of. But habits range from those that are perhaps a little antisocial, to the ones that are costing you your business’s success.

Over-promising, under-delivering, not delegating, working through lunch, spending too much time scrolling through social media – and everything in between. These are habits that ultimately limit our potential in one way or another. So how do you break them?

“The strongest thing in the world is a bad habit.”

Terri Guillemets

I watched a TED Talk recently by psychiatrist Judson Brewer. He says that we should break habits simply by becoming more curious about them by exploring how it really feels in the habitual situation. What does it feel like when you take too much on? What are the consequences? How do you feel in that moment? With smoking, how does it taste and smell? How do you really feel when you smoke? Breaking the habit comes from really taking notice – it’s a form of mindfulness. His TED Talk has had more than 9 million views to date.

In business, those habits may be broken simply by recognising them. Looking closely at what you do and asking why? There have been many times that I have heard the reply to that question as: ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ That’s the single most dangerous phrase for a business. Whenever I hear that phrase, it’s a signal for change.

Good habits to hold

There’s no denying that I am a creature of habit. I schedule every aspect of my life, but I only make the positive things habitual. I enjoy the same meals at breakfast – usually a curry! I have the same brand of trainers, the same weekly routine. Of course, there are bad habits in there that I have to break from time to time, I am sure my wife Gail would be better placed to highlight those!

It would be remiss of me to only talk about breaking bad habits when there are so many benefits of making good habits. Regular exercise can be literally transformative for both your physical and mental wellbeing, which in turn impacts your potential for business success. For me, regular exercise is an essential part of my week.

Equally, eating well is an extraordinarily beneficial habit to keep. Of course, there are times for sweets or treats, but keeping a healthy handle on the food that you eat is just as important as exercise.

Ultimately, it is up to you to take the time to step back and look at the habits that you keep. Are they all good? Are they all bad? Then to look at how you can break the negative habits or turn them into something positive. It is well worth the effort.

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