Over time, we all pick-up habits that might not be beneficial to us, to our work or our relationships. Some habits might be truly bad; others just don’t add value. Left alone, these habits become part of our conduct making it even harder to break them.
According to research, it takes 21 days on average to change a behavior. As we start the new year, it will serve us well to self-reflect and make sure our conduct is aligned to great leadership. This blog offers four tips to help replacing bad habits with good ones and make them stick.
1. Ask for Feedback
Great leaders don’t shy away from asking for feedback. They do it regularly and with an honest intention to improve. Instead of waiting for someone to give you feedback, flip the formula and ask them directly for feedback. Be specific about the feedback you are asking for; it could be on an action you took or a comment you made. Ask how you can improve your conduct and be open to suggestions.
Don’t limit feedback to friends and family. Ask those you interact with on a regular basis and have had an opportunity to experience your personal conduct. Most importantly, make a genuine effort to put the feedback into action.
2. Piecemeal Approach
Once you get the feedback, tackle one habit at a time. Start with what you can change immediately and regulate your actions. It could be challenging not to go back to the habit, especially if you have been doing it for a while. So, keep a journal (if it’s in your practice) or use whatever tools to remind you to stay on track.
Try to remove triggers and impulses to go back to the habit. Ask again if your actions are helpful, if not adjust accordingly.
3. Measure & Celebrate
Observe and measure impact of your progress, no matter how small, and celebrate successes. Use humor to demonstrate how far you have come. This will put you in a good frame of mind to continue in your journey.
4. Be Forgiving
Forgive yourself if you slip-up. It is OK to step backwards as long as your next step(s) are forward. The point is to stay focused and adamant to what you committed to do.
Remember, by controlling our habits, we take control of our lives and our legacy. For more material on behavioral change, checkout Atomic Habits by James Clear.