Cultivate Successful Habits

Cultivate Successful Habits

Successful HabitsDo you desire to be the best at what you do? The secret may be cultivating the right habits. People who are successful in business pay a lot of attention to recognising keystone habits. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day, and what seems to be different with successful people in business is that they’re deliberate about thinking about their habits – especially habits of willpower.

If you create and nurture the right habits – whether it’s a daily jog or cleaning out your inbox every Friday afternoon – what once seemed like an arduous decision becomes, instead, an automatic behaviour that you can leverage to move your career forward. The right question to ask, then, is what habits you’d like to cultivate. There are a shockingly large number of people who don’t discipline or organise their thoughts that way.

There’s no fixed amount of time it takes to develop a habit – biology makes some people more susceptible to habit formation, for good (exercise routines) or evil (drug addictions). But in every case, practice makes perfect. Habits are an accretive process. Each time you perform the habit, there’s a thickening of neural pathways. It’s more automatic the third time than the first, and even more automatic the 21st time. Every single time you do it, it gets easier and easier, and eventually you cross the line in the sand where it feels automatic and it’s an almost thoughtless activity.

What if you’re already trying to break bad habits? There is hope. You can change any habit; we know that any behaviour can be changed, regardless of how old you are or how ingrained the pattern is.” Note that simply voicing your desire for change won’t cut it. Ultimately the reason why people want to change habits is they want a new behaviour – so if you’re stuck in the camp of still wishing you could have the same behaviour (eating a lot) but get a different result (weight loss), your quest is likely to be disappointing.

Once you establish your new habit, you’ll need to avoid the temptation to slip back into your old ways. You can’t eradicate a habit, you can only change it, because once the neural pathways are there, you’re not able to ignore them completely.The key is to identify your original cue (you’re feeling stressed at work) and substitute a new behaviour (instead of yelling at your staff, go for a jog). You’ll want to ensure the new behaviour also provides a sense of reward, which is what made the original habit so “sticky.” So now, instead of the emotional release of yelling, you can enjoy the physical release of a run.

We can all recite the recipe for professional success – getting enough sleep, exercising, developing new skills – but it’s nonetheless a challenge to execute. Habits can be a powerful force to ensure you’re doing the right things to move you forward – and that goes for corporations, as well as individuals. There’s no way to reflect that on the profit & loss statement or the business plan, but it’s essential to the success of most firms.

Categories: Academic

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