November 1, 2014

6 Signs It’s Time To Change Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

time for change

Habits can be our greatest asset and can become our worst curse. We know in order to grow and maintain our personal and professional lives, we need to develop and establish effective, solid and sensible habits. We also need to keep them fun, fresh and motivating.

From Psychology Today, the topic of habit formation is hot in the news these days, especially with the success of Charles Duhigg’s best-selling new book The Power of Habit (which looks fascinating). Even New York Times columnist David Brooks is singing the praises of habit formation as the answer to everything from weight loss to addiction.

The premise is this: Why struggle to do something when you can simply make it automatic?

So, when we  look back on different cycle in our lives, we can see that the signs to change were there all along, but we choose to ignore them. Why do we wait until it’s too late and then are forced to make a move? We don’t have to.

Change is the most natural thing that we actually do. There is an organic change process we all live through in our  life cycles, career cycles, personal cycles. Birth, death, divorce, moving, accidents, health, nature and choice all impact our need to change.

It’s not always about dramatic change, in fact more often it’s about small things that can make a big difference.  Here are 6 signs it’s time to change habits:

1.) Complacency
There’s a feeling of contentment, or self-satisfaction, we get from accomplishment or finishing something that can lead to a letting up or backing off of  the urgency, or actions that are key to maintaining.  Continue to keep habits steady and consistent.

2.) Boredom
Continuing habits in exactly the same way can lead to boredom. Chang up your routine, take a different approach,  try new things that lead to staying fresh, recharged and enthusiastic. Try a different time of day, new route to someplace, a new look or hairstyle.

3.) Lack of energy
Do you notice your energy level is lower? Is your endurance while doing your job, tasks, work not as high? This could certainly be a medical issue, which you want to have checked out, but when we are not happy or fulfilled it saps our energy. Make sure you are eating properly, get your exercise, sleeping and drink lots of water.  Here’s a great article on Sleep Cycles and Rebooting Your Brain.

4.) Procrastination
The dreaded, ‘I have to do it’ attitude will sabotage you every time. Putting things off that are not our favorite things to do, that we have to do is human, but this can put us seriously behind and impact success. Take this free 20 question test on procrastination, know where you stand, then learn how to eliminate your procrastination hot spots.

5.) Distraction
There are more things today that are challenging our attention then ever before. Tweets, texts, posts, emails, videos, advertisements, mobile phones all challenge our focus. We are being easily distracted by bright and shiny objects, and studies are proving the undisciplined and addiction with social media. Check out this comprehensive, Study on Distraction, by Larry Rosen PHD, which reveals “students were only able to focus and stay on task for an average of three minutes at a time and nearly all of their distractions came from technology.”

6.) Negativity
90% of high performers possess  high EQ! Are you a glass half empty or half full person? Do you see the optimism and hope in things or is it always gloom and doom? “We become what we think about all day long.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Here are 5 Keys To Enhancing Your Emotional Intelligence.

I’m a fan of  Leo Babauta’s Zenhabits.net. He makes it easier to embrace changing habits, consciousness and taking action. Check out The Essential Zen Habits of 2011.

Are you seeing the signs that it’s time to change up your habits?  Be proactive and make a list of 5 habits that are working against you right now that you can and will change up and change them. One at a time!

Our personal brand and professional advancement depends on creating great working habits, embracing change and developing high EQ!


Time for Change Photo via Shutterstock

6 Comments ▼
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Deborah Shane


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane is a past staff writer for Small Business Trends covering marketing, branding and social media topics. She is a Top 100 Small Business Champion, career transition consultant, personal branding strategist and social media specialist. Deborah hosts her Top 100 Small Business Podcast weekly. Her book #trusthewhy Fundamentals, Values and Humor Get You Through Anything and award winning "Career Transition: Make the Shift" (2011) are available through all major book sellers.

6 Reactions

  1. Great inspirational post, loved the “We become what we think about all day long” line, but that statistic about students only being able to focus for 3 minutes at a time was rather frightening!

  2. These are good signs. However, some may confuse little things for them; and they end up changing habits too soon. In small businesses, for instance, some would change tactics too often due to frustrations – and they end up confusing slow, steady, development and no development at all.

    • Earl, good point. That’s where the follow your instincts come in. You have to give things time to work, but you also have to be able to know when they are not and switch or tweak gears! There is a “chronic feeling” that you just know something is not yielding the right or best results. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Alana, so true right!That study I found was remarkable, about young people’s focus impacted by technology. How are they going to study through college? It’s going to get more challenging to discipline ourselves. I love the idea of taking a “social media fast frequently”! Wow, just titled one of my next posts! Thanks for your comment and kind words!

  4. While I was scrabbling around for inspiration I stumbled across this article. You make some good points, but unfortunately you rather aided me in my search for distraction.

    I mean…what better tool for procrastination than a 20 question test which I just /have/ to take?!

  5. Good one. Out of the 6 listed reasons ( Complacency,Boredom,Lack of energy,Procrastination,Distraction,Negativity ) I find Procrastination and Distraction are there in my case. Trying to get it over soon. – thanks.

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