Our habits are what we are comfortable with. They are what help us get through the day. Yet all too often the word habit gets associated with doing things wrong or getting stuck in a rut. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read recently that checking our emails first thing in the morning is a bad habit. Really?
That’s just it though isn’t it. There seems to be an automatic association between bad and habit in people’s minds. Thankfully Stephen R Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has gone some way towards reversing that bad press, but that bad press is still out there.
A habit is a routine that we have got used to. It’s something that we unconsciously slip into. Our daily and weekly routine is what helps us through at work and at home. Now that can’t be considered bad, it’s just what it is. My morning routine usually involves coffee, checking emails and social media for anything that’s come in overnight. It doesn’t take long and it means I’ve caught up with things. For me, it’s a good habit and one I don’t see any reason in changing any time soon.
Sometimes though it does need an outsider to look at what you’re doing and ask “Why?”. Maybe not ‘Why?” but “What is that habit of yours giving you?”. We can ask ourselves the same question but chances are we don’t consciously think about our own habits so never think to question them.
So next time you set aside some time to reflect think about what habits you do have. Don’t judge them and think you have to change them just because they’re habits. Ask yourself:
- What habits or routines do I have on a daily and weekly basis?
- What are these habits doing for me?
- How could I modify any of these habits to make an improve the for me, my family, colleagues and friends (choose your own priority order here)?
- Are there any habits I need to stop and if so what do I need to do to replace what they were giving me?
- Should I develop an new habit (or routine if that sounds better) to meet some new challenge or forge a new path for myself?
There is nothing wrong with having habits. Habits only get in the way of what we want to achieve when we forget to check on them to see if they are still delivering the benefits we consciously or unconsciously thought about to start with.
And one last thing about habits. All those articles you read about the habits of the fabulously successful – read them out of idle curiosity but create the habits that work for you.
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© Paul Slater and Reflect & Lead, 2015.