7 months ago, I made a personal decision to stop drinking. Although not a chronic issue, it had become a habit that wasn’t giving me the “feels” anymore. Frankly, it was making me feel “more bad than good,” so it was time to make a tweak.
A habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Over these months, I’ve had time to think about my professional habits as well. Over coffee with friends we’ve talked about making them, breaking them and how even the smallest habits can impact your optimal success.
HR, you know what I’m talking about. Do these HR habits sound familiar?
• Triple checking with all stakeholders before making an HR decision. (Owning my decisions is scary.)
• Skipping lunch to get more work done. (I’ll rest when I’m dead).
• The inclination to tell people why something won’t work instead of why it will work. (I mean, I have to sound smarter than you, it’s my job).
• An aversion to setting boundaries or saying no.
• Over-talking and “under-listening.”
• Telling candidates you know aren’t qualified you’ll get back to them, and don’t. (What does it matter?)
• Missing deadlines. (I mean it’s just a day, they’ll understand).
At some point terrible habits make you, and everyone around you, feel “more bad than good.” And they could be hurting your career.
Here are a few things I learned about changing habits when I decided to curb my imbibing!
1) Listen to your gut. You usually know deep in your stomach when one of your work practices isn’t working. We are masters at ignoring our gut, especially when the idea of changing a habit or admitting failure or is too difficult to face. If your gut tells you something doesn’t feel right, that habit needs to be explored.
2) Make a short list of those practices. Literally, write down those practices that make your gut go, “wait…what?”. More specifically, make a list of practices that could be impacting your success.
3) Don’t ignore listing the practices that just make you feel bad. Some habits do make us more “successful,” but also make us feel awful about ourselves.
4) Assess how vital changing this habit is to you. Frankly, if it’s not that important, or you’re really not feeling it – don’t waste your time.
5) Work on changing one habit at a time. One at a time is enough, thank you. I mean, I’m not a savage!
6) Tell someone what you are trying to change. The harder the habit is to change, the more critical this step is. Remember, these habits are usually ingrained in our subconscious – we don’t even realize we are doing them. Get someone around you to be your wingman as you go through the process.
7) Give your change 30 days. Researchers much smarter than me show it takes 30 days to change a habit. Based on my experience, that seems about right.
I found the change in my life to be a positive one. It wasn’t the easiest at times, but not nearly as hard as imagined. If you bring focus and intention to changing a habit, you’ll be surprised how much more successful your efforts can be.
Dawn Burke, founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.