Habits are the key to get a semblance of work-life harmony. You change your habits – you change your life.
The question you need to ask yourself right now is “How much do I really want to change my habits?
Desire is the key to success or failure. With a strong desire, you will probably initiate changes. In order to change long-established habits, you must want to change. Desire is the beginning point. No one can force you to master your time and life. The “want to” must come from within.
Some habits are relatively easy to change; others can be extremely difficult. A change in one part of your life often has a direct impact on other parts of your life. Some habits are difficult to change because they are interconnected. A single behavior becomes a cue for another behavior, which in turn may be a cue for still another. In this way, you develop habit sequences that form vigorous modes of patterned behavior.
How long does it take to replace a poor habit with a better one?
Many of your work related habits could be successfully changed in four days to four weeks. In other words, if you consistently practice the new behavior four weeks, it will become your predominant response pattern. At that point, you have replaced the old habit with a new one. It might take a little longer to change some non-work related personal habits. Maybe a few weeks more. However, if you wish to eliminate your self-defeating habits and replace them with self-reinforcing habits, you could try some of the steps I propose here.
- Identify the habit you want to change. In order to pinpoint the precise behaviors you wish to change, you will have to analyze many of your behaviors and the situations where they occur. You must then carefully examine your assumptions to see if any of them are holding you back from achieving the change you desire. The more you know about what you do, when you do it, and why you do it, the easier it will be to identify the habits that are detrimental.
- Carefully define the new habit you wish to develop. Note down what you want to change and then describe the new habit you plan to adopt. Be honest with yourself. Gather the information you need to implement the change and visualize yourself acting out the new habit. Develop a realistic action plan, and get started.
- Begin the new behavior as strongly as possible. Tell everyone about the new habit you want to develop. Set up a routine to go with your habit. Put signs posts reminding you of the new behaviors in places you often find yourself in i.e., at your office and at home. Remember the importance of cues and how habits are interrelated. If possible, change your environment to give your new habit some “fresh air” to grow in.
- Never deviate from the behavior until the new habit is firmly established. Many people do the right things some of the time. Some do the right things most of the time. Only a few do the right things all of the time. Part-time application doesn’t develop new habits. Consistency and persistence are the only way to develop new habits. You will be tempted many times to do things in the old way. Resist these temptations. Some people rationalize deviations by saying, “Just this once won’t matter.” The truth is that each deviation matters a great deal. Every time you deviate, you must start over again. The more times you attempt to start over, the harder it is to change.
- Ask other people to help you change. Few of us make significant changes without the support of others. Think carefully about who might be able to help you. How can they help you best? What will you ask them to do? Building a strong support team around you makes new habits much easier to master. Remember – focus on a few things at a time.
The most important thing, however, is to get started.
Don’t talk about doing it later; do it now! Work-Life Harmony is only a habit away!